Norwegian military security agency accused of conducting illegal surveillance of PM
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Yesterday, Norwegian news outlets reported that Defense Security Service (Forsvarets sikkerhetstjeneste [FOST]) had conducted illegal surveillance against the prime minister’s office and other government offices.
Kripos, a division of the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and the Police, did a police search of the Norwegian Ministry of Defence's top-secret intelligence agency’s computer equipment in Jørstadmoen, after a request by the Ministry of Defense.
While remaining confident that the case will be investigated in a correct way, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg stated to Aftenposten late Wednesday that "it’s important that the police now find out what actually has happened."
Verdens Gang reported that to their knowledge, the surveillance happened in connection with FOST, having the responsibility for the computer security of key personnel within the prime minister's office and other government offices. For practical reasons these people have been connected to the military secure lines. Sources with insight to the surveillance process explained to Aftenposten that when a possible breach of computer security is detected its protocol that the person be given a notice that he may be in process off or already have broken the security rules. A person, possible within the Prime minister’s office has most likely received such a note and has reacted to the fact that the computer traffic had been under surveillance.
Vice admiral Jan Eirik Finseth told Verdens Gang that the Defense security agency's computer security section, reported that computer communication lines had been put under surveillance by military communications lines. Vice admiral Finseth stated to Verdens Gang that "the circumstances is of such a nature that the police [were] asked to investigate if anything of this may be illegal."
When Wikinews contacted State attorney Petter Mandt, who leads the investigation, we received confirmation that a search in Jørstadmoen took place, but he would not comment on what was confiscated, if anything. Mandt also stated that they would not comment on any specifics or give any details on the investigation, but explained that for use of a police search there has to be more than 50% probable suspicion that something illegal may have happened. When asked if suspicion was that the prime minister’s office had been put under illegal surveillance, Mandt refused to comment and stated that he will comment on neither how many nor who the individuals involved are.
Defense political spokesperson for Socialistic left (Sv) Bjørn Jacobsen, told Wikinews that "it's important to find out what, if anything has happened," but that "it's shocking that there even exist[s] a reason for a police search." When asked what will happen if anything illegal is found to have taken place, Jacobsen responded by pointing out that in this case the prosecutors will have to decide on what to do next, but stated that "parliament will have to see if the law and regulations ha[ve] to be changed. It's important to stop an eventual bad culture before it sticks to the walls."
This is the second investigation of illegal government surveillance in Norway since the Lund commission's report uncovered illegal surveillance of communist, socialist, and other persons, which the Norwegian Police Security Service deemed to be dangerous.
Wikinews was unable to get any comments from the Norwegian Military Defense when contacted.
- Aftenposten/NTB. "Kan ha overvåket samtlige statsråder" — Aftenposten, June 11, 2009 (Norwegian)
- Per Annar Holm. "Kan ha overvåket samtlige statsråder" — June 11, 2009 (Norwegian)
- Tone Tveøy Strøm-gundersen, Per Annar Holm, Halvor Tjønn. "Kan ha blitt overvåket" — Aftenposten, June 10, 2009 (Norwegian)
- Ingrid Hvidsten, Ingar Johnsrud. "SMK-ansatt kan ha fått overvåkningsvarsel" — Verdens Gang, June 11, 2009 (Norwegian)
- Lars Akerhaug, Kathrine Hammerstad, Tor-Erling Thømt Ruud, Mads A. Andersen, Amund Bakke Foss. "Etterforsker Forsvaret for ulovlig overvåkning av statsministeren" — Verdens Gang, June 10, 2009 (Norwegian)