Norway expels Russian diplomat after spying arrest

Norway said Wednesday it had expelled a Russian diplomat, just days after arresting a Norwegian man suspected of passing sensitive information to Moscow.

Norway expels Russian diplomat after spying arrest
Spasskaya tower seen through the Kremlin wall in Moscow. Illustration photo: AFP

The country's PST intelligence agency on Monday said the Norwegian man was “formally suspected of providing information to a foreign country,” which it later confirmed was Russia.

“We have informed the Russian ambassador that an employee of the Russian embassy is undesirable as a diplomat and will be asked to leave Norway,” said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Siri Svendsen.

She said the person had engaged in acts “not compatible with his status as a diplomat.”

The diplomat, who works in the embassy's trade section, has until the end of the week to leave the country.

It was not immediately clear if the diplomat was the same person who was with the Norwegian arrested at an Oslo restaurant on Saturday.

The 50-year-old Norwegian worked at DNV GL, a company that provides certification for insurance purposes for the shipping, oil and gas and renewables industries.

The company said the employee was in the “oil and gas sector” but “did not have security clearance and has therefore not worked on projects for the defence industry, the Norwegian Armed Forces or other governmental agencies where security clearance is a prerequisite.”

“At the time of his arrest, he led a joint industry project on 3D printing,” it said in a statement.

A judge on Monday ordered him held in custody for four weeks, the first two in isolation.

Court documents show that the man, identified as Harsharn Singh Tathgar, told investigators he had handed over information in exchange for “not insignificant sums in cash”, but had insisted the information was not harmful to the nation's interests.

The Russian embassy in Oslo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its annual report published in February, PST warned of the risk of espionage in several sectors of society — political, financial, defence and research circles, among others — singling out Russia, China and Iran as particular threats.

In recent decades several spy cases have marred ties between NATO member Norway and Russia, which share a border in the Arctic Circle.

READ ALSO: Norwegian man arrested in Oslo for suspected espionage

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Monday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Monday with The Local’s short roundup of important news. 

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Monday 
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

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On Monday, the government will issue guidelines on how exactly its Covid-19 certificate will be used domestically.

At 3pm, the government will hold a press conference where they will reveal more about how the Covid-19 certificates will work.

The certificate launched on Friday, but so far, the government have been sparing with details on how it will be used. 

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They have, however, revealed the certificate would be used for access to large events as well as tours and cruises within Norway. 

We will have all the details on how the certificate will be used covered in an article later today. 

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At the end of May, Danmarks Radio reported that the US used Danish data cables to spy on politicians across Europe. 

“These are serious allegations that the government takes very seriously. Based on what we know, it does not look like there has been activity (espionage) directed at Norwegian politicians,” Jensen said in a statement. 

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“Systematic espionage is completely unacceptable. We are clear to the Danish and American authorities about this. We are also in active dialogue with Danish and American authorities and services about the information regarding this matter,” he added. 

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According to new figures from Statistics Norway, the number of foreign children being adopted in Norway is also less than 10 percent of what it was in 1998 when 795 foreign adoptions were registered. 

A total of 243 adoptions were recorded in Norway last year, almost 100 less than the year before. 

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Fewer cases tend to be registered on weekends and public holidays than on weekdays. 

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Total number of Covid-19 cases in Norway. Source: NIPH