Initial release was short-lived

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An appeals court in Oslo ruled Monday that Norway’s most popular illegal alien, Maria Amelie, must be released from custody but immigration police immediately appealed. That means she remains in detention, still risks deportation, and so far has won no reprieve from the government.

Thousands of Norwegians have protested all over the country since Maria Amelie was arrested, pleading for her release and permission for her to remain in Norway. This photo was from a demonstration outside the government complex in downtown Oslo. PHOTO: Views and News

Members of the government worked through the weekend in the hopes of finding a compromise that would calm public outrage over Amelie’s arrest and pending deportation. She wasn’t sent out of the country early Monday morning, as her supporters feared, but the threat of deportation at any time was hanging over her.

The 25-year-old Amelie spent an uneasy weekend at the Trandum asylum center near Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, after being arrested by eight police officers Wednesday night. Now the court (Lagmannsretten) has ordered her release from Trandum, ruling that there is no danger she’ll run off. The court ruling was a victory for Amelie, not least because the court also was critical of how the police handled her arrest, writing that “many” have viewed it as unnecessarily harsh.

But there’s no cause for celebration yet. Police appealed the court order, so Amelie must remain at Trandum until the Supreme Court makes a decision. And Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg still wasn’t giving in to massive public appeals for amnesty for Amelie, who has lived illegally in Norway since arriving as a minor but endeared herself to the public by integrating, learning to speak perfect Norwegian, doing brilliantly in school and even writing a book about her experiences. Her book has put the spotlight on the plight of illegal aliens and undocumented workers in Norway, and the government doesn’t want to appear heartless, but Stoltenberg still doesn’t think Amelie should get any special treatment. Rules are rules, he insists, claiming it would be unfair if she’s allowed to stay in Norway while hundreds of others are forcibly being deported on a regular basis.

Amelie’s lawyer feared she’d be put on a flight to Moscow early Monday, since she was born in what’s now a part of Russia. That didn’t happen, but tensions were high that police could hustle her on to another flight out of the country at any moment.

The rules that Stoltenberg wants to follow, however, may be eased, reported newspaper Aftenposten, allowing Amelie to return rather quickly to Norway since she’s already received job offers and signed an employment contract for a full-time position at a technical magazine. If the rules aren’t changed, Amelie may effectively be banned from entering Norway for several years.

Her parents remain in hiding in Norway, as illegal aliens themselves and with a weaker case than their daughter has. One of the three government coalition parties, the Socialist Left (SV), has been lobbying for amnesty for all three of them, but neither Stoltenberg’s Labour Party nor the small Center Party would agree to SV’s demands. The party is still pressing at least for an easing of the rules as they now stand, so that Amelie could ultimately be granted permanent residence permission in Norway.

“Every SV heart will sink if she’s sent out of the country,” Oddny Miljeteig of SV in Bergen told newspaper Aftenposten, “but we can live with that if she can come back quickly and win residence.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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