Arne Christian Haugstøyl, PST’s head of counter-intelligence, said that the agency had uncovered a growing number of incidents where Norwegians had been put under pressure.
“We have received reports of Norwegian citizens who have been blackmailed to deliver information to Russian authorities,” he told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK. “This is an alarming development that we must be more aware of.”
According to NRK several Norwegian MPs have admitted to speaking to PST about their contacts with Russians, although none would discuss the reasons for PST’s interest.
Haugstøyl said that PST feared there could be a number of Norwegians in prominent positions who had already been entrapped and were being used by Russian intelligence as sources of information.
“We suspect a large uncounted figure, because some people will undoubtedly feel the pressure is so large that they will not report it to us or to their employer when they return,” he said.
He said that Norwegians had a tendency to be too trusting when travelling abroad.
“We are naive when we are traveling to this kind of country,” he said.
Andrey Kulikov, a press attaché at the Russian embassy in Oslo rejected the accusation that his country was blackmailing Norwegians.
“These allegations are scandalous and nothing but lies,” he wrote in an email.