Norway’s Director General of Public Prosecutions (Riksadvokaten) has asked the state commission in charge of re-opening criminal cases to instead re-open one of its own closed cases: Its rejection in 2008 of an attempt by convicted spy Arne Treholt to get his case back into court.
Instead of requesting the commission to re-open Treholt’s case, Riksadvokat Tor-Aksel Busch asked it to re-evaluate its decision not to do exactly that just two years ago. It’s a complicated legal situation that the head of the commission called “highly unusual,” and calls for a decision by all members of the commission.
Busch made his request in light of a series of media reports in recent days that police evidence against Treholt, convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Iraq in 1985, was fabricated. Since Busch was the prosecutor in the Treholt case 25 years ago, however, Treholt himself and his defense attorney have claimed Busch has a conflict of interest.
Busch says that’s why he’s turning the suggestions of fabrication and illegal surveillance by the police at the time over to the commission. He claims, though, that he has no conflicts of interest in the case.
The Treholt spy drama has been building up to a new climax for the past week, ever since a new book on the case raised claims of fabricated evidence. Newspaper Aftenposten has kept the drama going with new reports of alleged fabrication and illegal surveillance.
Helen Sæter, leader of the commission, indicated the case would indeed be re-opened, telling Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “we can’t live with” allegations of fabricated evidence, and saying they must try to “once and for all” to settle the spying case against Treholt.
Few think he’ll be entirely cleared, since it was established that he had secret contact with a top KGB official and admitted accepting large sums of money in connection with other information he offered to Iraqi agents.
Treholt, who was pardoned after serving eight years of a 20-year prison term for high treason, now lives on Cyprus and has indicated he’s not looking forward to any new trial. Nor is his brother, who has stood by Treholt but told NRK that the spying charges and conviction have been an enormous burden on the family for years.