As new terrorism warnings were being issued and terror suspects were back in court in Oslo on Monday, Norway’s own anti-terrorism laws were under fire for being more lenient than those elsewhere in Europe. Critics on both ends of the political spectrum want to toughen them up.
An Oslo court once again was asked to rule whether three men arrested on charges of plotting terrorist attacks from Oslo should remain in custody. Two of the three — Shawan Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd, and Mikael Davud, a Uyghur — confessed last week to planning terrorist attacks and went along Monday with at least another four weeks of custody.
The third man, David Jakobsen from Uzbekistan, objected and wants to be released. Jakobsen has been an informant for police in Norway and claims he’s shocked by the plots Bujak and Davud allegedly were mounting to attack either the Chinese Embassy in Oslo, the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, or both.
Politicians, meanwhile, are growing increasingly concerned that all three men may be cleared because Norway’s anti-terrorism laws are too mild.
Prosecutors must prove that the men acted in consort, because it’s currently not illegal in Norway to plan an act of terrorism individually. Nor is it illegal to be a member of a terrorist organization.
Terrorism suspects can only be punished if prosecutors can prove they acted in association, because Norway is not a member of the European Union and thus not subject to the EU’s tougher laws. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Monday that this makes it more difficult to punish anyone for planning terrorism.
Both Jan Arild Ellingsen of the conservative Progress Party and Jan Bøhler of the liberal Labour Party see a need to “update” Norway’s laws. “We need laws that secure the nation’s safety, regardless of whether it’s one person or several planning terror,” Ellingsen told Aftenposten. “If (the current) law hinders a conviction, we must reevaluate the law.”
New travel warnings
Both the US and the UK, meanwhile, issued new warnings advising against travel to Europe, while Sweden boosted its own terror warnings over the weekend. Norwegian officials, however, have so far seen no need to do the same.
“Our travel advisories are always open to re-evaluation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen told news bureau NTB, “but we have no new information that calls for new advisories for the areas the US and UK are now warning against.”
While no specific targets were officially mentioned, media reports suggested the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame in Paris and the central train station in Berlin among others. The British royal family was also reportedly put under extra guard.