Press sue state for Treholt documents
May 5, 2011
Journalists, editors and newspapers have joined forces to launch a case against the government in order to gain access to sound recordings and documents related to the judgment in the infamous spying case against Arne Treholt from 1985.
The Norwegian Police Security Service (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste, PST) has so far denied journalists access to classified documents related to the issue. The Norwegian Press Association, the Association of Norwegian Editors and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) are therefore launching a case of behalf of newspapers including Aftenposten, Dagbladet, VG and a range of regional titles.
Treholt case rumbles on
Arne Treholt was sentenced to 20 years in prison for alleged spying on behalf of the Soviet Union and Iraq. The Criminal Cases Review Commission has launched a period of consultation on whether to reopen the case. Treholt’s lawyers and a series of independent investigators claim that police fabricated key evidence related to the case, in particular regarding evidence that the alleged spy had received money in suitcases from foreign sources.
A former Labour Party politician, Treholt was controversially pardoned for health reasons by a Labour government in 1992. He then moved to Russia before ending up in Cyprus, where he has become a successful businessman.
‘Speculation, uncertainty and doubt’
Aftenposten‘s politics editor, Harald Stranghelle, covered the Treholt issue during the original investigation and sentencing, and told NRK that he “hopes this will lead to an open case,” which is “a condition for having confidence” in the legal process followed.
The deputy leader of the Association of Norwegian Editors, Arne Jensen, agreed, commenting that “it is important that all cards are laid on the table” after the case “has plagued Norwegian society for 25 years.” He suggested that such openness would “restore and maintain faith in the Norwegian justice system.” He also added that PST’s refusal to give good reasons for withholding information beyond general statements about threats to national security “obviously leads to speculation, uncertainty and doubt about what the real motives of the PST are.”
National security ‘not threatened’
Ståle Eskelund, a professor of criminal law at the University of Oslo, agreed that arguments on the basis of national security alone were insufficient. “My imagination cannot stretch far enough in order to be able to come to the conclusion that the kingdom’s security is in any way threatened by something that happened during a court case in 1985,” he stated. He believes that PST “usually” take “the most restrictive standpoint” on what can be released, but they have “a responsibility that goes far beyond that.”
The PST and its leader, Janne Kristiansen, have not yet commented to NRK about the case.