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Treholt demands apology for illegal surveillance

Arne Treholt, the former Norwegian diplomat convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Iraq, said Tuesday he was glad to hear that the surveillance of his home carried out by Norwegian police and intelligence agents back in the mid-1980s has been deemed illegal. He now expects an apology and compensation.

Arne Treholt lived in this apartment building on Oslo's fashionable street called Oscars Gate when police kept him under round-the-clock surveillance. PHOTO: Views and News

The long spy drama involving Treholt took another twist when a special commission probing the surveillance carried out in 1984 declared Tuesday that parts of it were illegal. The special police intelligence unit at the time, POT, only had permission to tap Treholt’s phone.

Instead, POT agents listened in on everything going on in Treholt’s apartment in the fashionable neighborhood just behind the Royal Palace. The agents, it turned out, were spying on the suspected spy and his family 24 hours a day for more than a year.

“Listening in on his rooms, the video surveillance and the repeated raids on his home were illegal,” claimed commission leader Helga Hernes. She called POT’s methods “a serious violation” of Norwegian law.

Treholt, who moved to Cyprus after being pardoned in 1992, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the commission’s decision was “a nice surprise” especially in regard to the violations of his ex-wife’s private life and that of their son. They were all unknowing that agents were listening in on their every word.

“I now assume that this will form a foundation for a necessary apology and compensation from the authorities,” Treholt said, even though he claimed “money has never been a decisive factor for me.” Treholt has continued to profess his innocence and views the commission’s conclusion as a form of justice being served.

Janne Kristiansen, the head of Norway’s police intelligence unit now called PST, seemed far from remorseful, however. She told NRK that Treholt was convicted of high treason and that police used the methods deemed necessary at the time. Rules and laws surrounding surveillance have changed over the years, and it remains unclear what, if any, legal effect the commission’s conclusion will have on Treholt’s efforts to clear his name. He lost an attempt last week to have his case re-opened, following allegations that evidence against him was fabricated.

Treholt said he will discuss the matter with his lawyer, Harald Stabell, and his “closest advisers.” Stabell told NRK that if POT agents broke the law through their surveillance methods, it suggests they were capable of fabricating evidence as well, and making false statements in court. A PST spokesman countered that the commission’s conclusion was only of historic interest.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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