US Embassy resumes its surveillance

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The US Embassy in Oslo, which has been at the center of several controversies in recent years, plans to resume its surveillance activities but promises to abide by Norwegian laws this time.

The embassy got into trouble with local officials and politicians last fall after TV2 reported that it had a secret surveillance unit that had been monitoring the moves of Norwegian civilians and exploiting access to local police files. The surveillance went beyond just the immediate area around the embassy, angering local citizens and politicians alike because much of it was believed to be illegal. Norway sets strict limits on civilian surveillance, which the embassy’s operation seemed to ignore.

The protests and a heated session in the Norwegian Parliament prompted the embassy to suspend its surveillance program, but  TV2 has now reported that the embassy applied for permission in January to start up again.

“It’s correct that the US Embassy has received permission to resume a security program that involves its immediate neighbourhood,” Frode Andersen of the Foreign Ministry told newspaper Aftenposten. He said, however, that the new surveillance will be limited and in compliance with Norwegian law.

The embassy, meanwhile, has also claimed that it intends to begin construction later this summer of a new embassy compound at Huseby, northwest of downtown. While efforts have persisted for years to get the Americans to move out of downtown because the embassy is said to be a terror target, local residents of Huseby have fought a legal battle to keep the embassy out of their area.

Views and News staff