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Monday, May 27, 2024

Police intelligence unit under probe

Norway police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) is itself under investigation, after Justice Minister Grete Faremo called for an “external evaluation” of how PST sets its priorities.

The issue has been a matter of political and media debate since it emerged last year that PST had failed to follow up on a tip about terror defendant Anders Behring Breivik’s acquisition of materials that could be used to produce explosives. PST also came under criticism for failing to pay enough attention to Norway’s right-wing extremist groups, and failing to pick up any suspicions about Breivik.

Norway’s Labour Party-led government was initially uninterested in examining PST’s role in the months after the attacks, even though Labour was the target of Breivik’s attacks. The opposition Conservative and Progress parties kept pressing for more insight into how PST works, though, and Faremo has now agreed to evaluate PST. She’s hired Norway’s ambassador to London, Kim Traavik, and a veteran of the Swedish intelligence agency (Säkerhetspolisen, Säpo), Kjell Vikström, to do the job.

Traavik is a veteran diplomat who also has been Norway’s ambassador to NATO and been a top official at Norway’s delegation to the European Union (EU). Vikström formerly headed Säpo’s bodyguard force and is now acting head of the division that oversees Säpo’s economy, personnel, technical and communications services. He played a major role in a recent reorganization of Swedish security services.

“I’m glad that two such experienced persons have agreed to do this job,” Faremo told news bureau NTB. PST officials also claimed they welcomed the review. “We hope it will give us a boost and strengthen the service,” said PST spokesman Martin Bernsen.

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