NGO sues to expel Norway TV from Egypt

The Egyptian ally of a Norwegian NGO charged with money-laundering has asked a court in Egypt to expel a journalist working for state broadcaster NRK.

NGO sues to expel Norway TV from Egypt
Loai Deeb speaking at GNRD's International Conference on Terrorism and Human Rights. Photo: GNRD

Egypt's Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights has asked the court to revoke NRK's licence to do journalism in Egypt and expel its correspondent, the Cairo-based Sigurd Falkenberg Mikkelsen. 

The basis for their case is related to the fact NRK earlier this year revealed that Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), an NGO registered in Norway which has close links to Maat Foundation, has been involved in corruption and money laundering.

“We are aware that there will be a civil lawsuit against NRK, but it is difficult to clarify what the concrete charges are and where in the Egyptian legal system the case is to be tried,” Per Arne Kalbakk, NRK's news director, told Norway's Dagens Naeringsliv newspaper. “We have the impression that the matter is at an early stage in the system.” 

GNRD, based in Stavanger, and its leader, the Palestinian-born Loai Deeb, were charged with laundering more than 100m Norwegian kroner ($13 million) in May this year.

Since, then GNRD has mounted a powerful campaign against the Norwegian state. Representatives of NGOs linked to GNRD claimed that Norway was acting like “a totalitarian regime” during the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The organisation has also said that they plan to sue the Norwegian government for 20bn kroner in damages. 

“We are aware that GNRD are trying to misrepresent The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim)'s investigation of the organisation internationally,” Frode Overland Andersen, from Norway's Foreign Ministry,  told Dagens Naeringsliv.  “That is unfortunate. I don't want to speculate on what GNRD are trying to achieve with the misinformation.”

The Maat foundation claim that NRK's reporting of the case against GNRD was partial and unfair, and that NRK should therefore not be allowed to operate in Egypt.

Kalbakk said that NRK did not intend to let the lawsuit affect its work in Egypt.

“We don't believe we have been biased, and we will continue to engage in investigative journalism. The safety of our employees will always be important, but we will not let an angry organisation stop us from doing normal journalism in Egypt,” he said. “Considering that they are a human rights organisation, it seems that GNRD are strikingly unconcerned about freedom of the press.” 

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How do food prices in Norway compare to the rest of Europe? 

Known just as much for its high prices as its stunning scenery, Norway doesn't have a reputation as a cheap place to live. But how much does food cost, and how does it compare to the rest of Europe? 

How do food prices in Norway compare to the rest of Europe? 

Famously known for being on the pricey side, Norway has many factors that draw foreign residents, such as the scenery, wages and work-life balance. 

However, one common complaint is the high prices. Is the cost of food and groceries as bad as everyone says? 

Unfortunately, according to the statistics, Norway lives up to its reputation for expensive food and groceries. 

Eurostat, which monitors price levels across the EU, EEA and EU candidate countries, has ranked Norway as the country with the second highest price level index for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Out of the countries monitored by the stats agency, only Switzerland had a higher price level index. A price level index measures the price levels of a given nation relative to other countries. This means that compared to the rest of the other countries measured, food and non-alcoholic beverages in Norway are the second most expensive overall. 

According to Eurostat’s data and price level index, prices in Norway were 49 percent higher than the EU average in 2021. Norway also had the highest price for fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and ‘other food’ products. ‘Other foods’ consist of chocolates, sugars, jams etc. 

READ ALSO: Why food in Norway is so expensive

In addition, non-alcoholic beverages in Norway were also the most expensive found among 36 European countries. The price of alcoholic drinks in Norway lived up to their reputation for priciness, with the cost of alcoholic beverages being 160 percent higher than the average and the second most expensive after Iceland

Scandinavia as a whole has a reputation for high prices, so how did Norway compare in this regard? 

Finland had the lowest overall food prices out of Scandinavian countries when measured by the price level index for food and non-alcoholic beverages. This was followed by Sweden, which had a score of 117, Denmark with 120 and Iceland with 139. 

This highlights that even among the Nordics, Norway is an expensive country for food. 

One noticeable trend is that the food prices in Norway are becoming less expensive compared to the European average. In 2018, food prices in Norway were 63 percent higher than the European average. Three years on, this had fallen to 49 percent. 

Even though the prices are high, is it really that expensive when considering wages? 

While food is certainly more expensive in Norway than in most countries, wages are also considerably higher. 

For example, the average monthly salary in Norway was 50,790 kroner per month in 2021. This equates to just over 5,000 euros. In 2022, the estimated monthly average wage in the EU was around 2,570 euros. However, it’s worth pointing out that large differences exist between EU countries. For example, the average monthly wage in Bulgaria was estimated to be around 852 euros, while in Denmark, it’s estimated to be about 5,979 euros (44,514 Danish kroner). 

Therefore, a more accurate way of measuring the true cost of food would be to measure how much of a household’s monthly income is spent on food. 

In Romania, food made up more than a quarter of household expenditure, making food more expensive there for households as it eats up a larger chunk of consumers’ budgets, despite lower prices than the EU average. Across 36 countries measured by Eurostat, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up around 13 percent of total consumption expenditure by households. 

In this regard, Norwegians actually spend less money on food than other European households. Food and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for 11.3 percent of households’ total spending in 2022, according to Statistics Norway

Typically, someone aged 31-50 years will spend between 3,100 – 3,660 kroner per month on food, according to the Consumption Research Norway’s (SIFO) Reference Budget for Consumer Expenditures

So even while Norway spends more money on food, it’s less expensive overall as it takes up a lower portion of household expenditure. fra