Convicted spy loses latest appeal

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Norway’s most famous convicted spy, Arne Treholt, failed to win a new day in court on Thursday. A state commission reviewing his latest appeals of his conviction 26 years ago decided against recommending that his case be taken up again.

The decision by Norway’s Gjenopptakelseskommisjon (Criminal Cases Review Commission) had been eagerly anticipated and it came as a surprise to many that it would be announced with little advance warning.  Treholt himself and his attorney Harald Stabell were only informed late Wednesday evening, along with the media and rest of the public, that a decision would be announced Thursday afternoon.

That meant Treholt, who now lives in Cyprus, couldn’t manage to get to Oslo in time for the commission’s announcement at 1:30pm on Thursday. He reportedly took that as a bad signal, and told website Aftenposten.no that he hadn’t expected the commission to take up his case. Stabell had tried to get the commission’s announcement postponed until Treholt could be present.

Instead commission leader Helen Sæter went ahead with Thursday’s announcement that Treholt’s case would not be re-opened. She said many hearings on the case, and examination of allegedly new evidence, offered “a total picture” that the actual raids on Treholt’s home and office were carried out and photographs taken as police investigators had said. She said new material also supported that conclusion, pointing to correspondence on findings from the time as well. The commission unanimously concluded there was no foundation for recent claims that evidence had been fabricated or that false testimony had been delivered.

Treholt has been trying to clear his name since being sentenced in 1985 to 20 years in prison on charges of espionage and high treason. He was accused of spying for both the former Soviet Union and Iraq and served seven years of his term before being pardoned for health reasons in 1992 by then-Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland’s Labour Party government and, officially, King Harald.

Treholt had long been a trusted diplomat and Labour Party politician when he was arrested in 1984, making the spying case against him spectacular and politically charged. It has received enormous media coverage over the years and hit the front pages again last year when a new book was published that claimed police evidence against Treholt had been fabricated.

While some scoffed at the fabrication claims, others, including Treholt’s former prosecutor, took them seriously and the crime cases commission decided to review his case once again. Treholt told Aftenposten he “had no illusions,” that he’d get another chance to defend himself in court. “But it would have been nice,” he said on the phone from Cyprus.

He told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), though, that “the last word hasn’t been spoken” on his case and that he and Stabell would now consider their options, indicating he will keep trying to overturn his conviction.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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