Mullah Krekar, who came to Norway as a refugee and later was deemed a threat to national security, is now under indictment for making threats against the head of Norway’s Conservative Party, Erna Solberg. State prosecutors confirmed the long-expected indictment to TV2 on Tuesday.
The indictment comes more than year after Krekar, in a wide-ranging press conference in June 2010 with foreign journalists based in Oslo, said that Norway “will pay a price” if state authorities finally succeed in deporting him. Even though Krekar remains constantly critical of the Norwegian government and society, he has resisted being sent back to northern Iraq because he claims his life would be in danger there or that Iraqi authorities themselves might execute him.
He had tangled with Solberg when she was a government minister before the current left-center coalition government took over. Even though she no longer has any authority in immigration matters, Krekar said at last year’s press conference that “if a leader like Erna Solberg sends me out, and I die, she will suffer the same fate.” He clarified later that “If I die, those who are the reason for that will suffer the same fate.”
Krekar went on to say that he had no assassination plan himself but his “followers” would likely carry one out.
Krekar’s remarks were reported on this website and quickly picked up by Norwegian media including TV2 and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which also got hold of video from the press conference from which they’d been excluded because Krekar didn’t want to talk to Norwegian reporters. Subsequent reports in the Norwegian media set off new public outrage and upset many Norwegian politicians, not least Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, whose party also has been identified by Krekar as one of his enemies.
While Solberg seemed inclined at the time to ignore Krekar’s remarks, Jensen ultimately reported Krekar to the police for making threats. It was her police report that led to Krekar being called in for questioning last fall and, now, the indictment against him.
A spokesman for police intelligence unit PST had told reporters earlier this year that initial charges of making threats and inciting terrorist acts could evolve into an indictment. The government remains unable to deport the controversial Muslim cleric because Norwegian officials have been unable to extract assurances from Iraqi officials that he won’t be executed.
Krekar’s defense attorney Brynjar Meling has tried to downplay Krekar’s remarks, saying they were merely a response to threats made against Krekar himself and in line with the teachings of the Koran. Melig told NRK Tuesday that he didn’t expect a trial to occur before the end of the year. Krekar faces a maximum prison term of 15 years.
Solberg, meanwhile, issued a press release on Tuesday saying she’s now glad that the police and state prosecutor have taken Krekar’s remarks seriously. “If the police believe Krekar has broken the law then it’s good that he’s indicted,” she said, adding that “this is a question for the courts and not politicians.” Jensen has been keen to keep Krekar in jail until the day comes when he finally can be sent out of Norway.
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