Russian at Oslo IT conference held on suspicion of spying

By On September 24, 2018

Russian at Oslo IT conference held on suspicion of spying

Norway Russian at Oslo IT conference held on suspicion of spying

Man arrested at airport after ‘strange behaviour’ at event held in Norwegian parliament

The Norwegian parliament in Oslo, where the ECPRD conference was being held.
The Norwegian parliament in Oslo, where the ECPRD conference was being held. Photograph: Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Images

A Russian man has been arrested in Oslo on suspicion of spying, after exhibiting “strange behaviour” at an IT conference in Norway’s parliament.

Norwegian police have not identified the man publicly, but press reports suggest he is a 51-yea r-old who has previously identified himself as an IT adviser to Russia’s federation council â€" the upper house of parliament.

Police were summoned on Friday because of the man’s “strange behaviour”, the Norwegian parliament’s director told the country’s public broadcaster, NRK. He was arrested at the airport charged with violating espionage laws.

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The Russian embassy in Norway confirmed the arrest on Sunday evening and said the suspicion was ‘“invented” and the arrest made under an “absurd pretext”.

The arrest came in the same week as investigative journalists discovered a series of passports that may belong to Russian intelligence agents abroad, including the two men accused of the poisoning in Salisbury. Earlier this month, the Guardian also reported that Dutch police had expelled two alleged Russian spies accused of planning to hack into the Swiss chemicals laboratory where the novichok nerve agent samples from the Salisbury attack were analysed.

Hege Kristine Aakre, the lawyer for the man arrested in Oslo, told a Norwegian paper that electronic equipment had been seized, but did not go into any detail. She told Norwegian reporters that the man did not understand the charges against him and that he believes there has been a misunderstanding.

According to conference schedules seen by the Guardian, the suspect is a moustachioed middle-aged man who has previously travelled to Lisbon, Budapest, and Baku for conferences held under the auspices of the European commission. The events gather IT experts from European parliaments to discuss topics such as information security. The conference at Norway’s parliament, the Storting, was dedicated to the “digitalisation of society”.

A Budapest conference in 2012 billed itself as explaining “the secure way of using your own device in the parliament”.

Calls to the man’s home in southern Moscow went unanswered on Monday. An online profile first reported by NRK showed that the man may have studied at Russia’s elite Moscow State University from 1984 until 1991.

In April, Frode Berg, a Norwegian, was arrested in Russia on suspicion of espionage. Held in custody pending trial, Berg has admitted helping the Norwegian intelligence service by acting as a courier on several occasions, but says he did not know what he was delivering.

If the investigation in Norway confirms the espionage allegations against the Russian citizen, Norwegian authorities could try to negotiate an exchange to obtain Berg’s return, local media have speculated.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report


Topics
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Espionage
  • Europe
  • news
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Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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