A parliamentary justice committee is ready to demand an independent inquiry into the way Norwegian police and their intelligence unit handled one of the country’s most sensational spying cases ever. The convicted but later pardoned Arne Treholt says he’s shocked by new revelations, too.
A new book published this fall already has claimed that photographic evidence was fabricated when the case went to court in Norway in 1985. Now some legal experts have concluded that video surveillance of Treholt’s apartment was illegal, while more claims of manipulated photos are emerging and questions also are being raised about the cash used as evidence of Treholt’s alleged wrongdoing.
Treholt, a diplomat and Labour Party politician, was arrested in 1984 and charged with spying for both the former Soviet Union and Iraq. He was convicted and spent several years in jail before being pardoned for health reasons in 1992.
New revelations about his case come shortly after increasingly strong assertions that the evidence that sent Treholt to jail with a 20-year sentence was manufactured by the police.
“I’m shocked and shaken by the revelation in (newspaper) Aftenposten,” says Treholt, referring to stories over the weekend about new claims coming forward. “I’m shocked, too, when I think of my former wife. She must find this very difficult to comprehend.
“Also I’m angry on behalf of my son, who was six years old at the time. In spite of him not having done anything wrong, he was under continual surveillance from when he was a tiny child,” Treholt told Aftenposten.
The police officers who allegedly broke the law may themselves get off without being charged because the statute of limitations has expired. Perjury and manufacturing evidence cannot be pursued in the courts once a 20-year period has elapsed.
Yet another turn in the Treholt saga surfaced over the weekend. A photographer, whose shop developed photos for the Soviet embassy in the early 1980s, claims he was asked by the police surveillance agency at the time (Politiets overvåkningstjeneste) if he would manipulate a picture of Treholt into the same frame as the local KGB boss in Oslo. He claims he turned down the request, citing practical difficulties.
The photo shop owner said he nevertheless continued to furnish the agency with copies of all the photos that he developed for the Soviets.
Two former prime ministers, Kåre Willoch of the Conservative Party and Thorbjørn Jagland of Labour, are among those calling for a probe into the case against Treholt. Some advocates for Treholt want the case retried in an effort to clear his name, while other politicians want details of how the police operated and whether Treholt got a fair trial.
Finding prosecutors with no conflicts of interest, though, could present problems. Tor-Aksel Busch was chief prosecutor in the Treholt trial. Today he heads the Norwegian Prosecuting Authority (Riksadvokaten), but he already is calling in one of those who Treholt under surveillance, for questioning.