Stoltenberg target of death threats

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Last Friday, while Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was welcoming the US Secretary of State to Norway, police were mobilizing to arrest a man for threatening to kill both Stoltenberg and another top Labour Party politician, who also is the man’s stepfather. Newspaper Dagbladet reported Wednesday that the man is now in custody and faces 15 years in prison.

As Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was welcoming US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to lunch at Oslo's Akershus Fortress and Castle, police were mobilizing to arrest a man for making concrete threats against Stoltenberg's life. PHOTO: Statsministerenskontor

Stoltenberg himself was going about his political duties on Wednesday, opening a new stretch of highway on the heavily trafficked E18 route between Larvik and Porsgrunn in the morning. Last week, though, and for the past several months, the prime minister has been the target of a major drama that led Norway’s police intelligence unit PST to take action to protect Stoltenberg’s life, according to Dagbladet.

“I can confirm that PST has arrested a person,” PST spokesman Trond Hugubakken told Dagbladet. “The person is charged in a serious case.”

Defense attorneys for the man under arrest also confirmed that their client was arrested on Friday, the same day Stoltenberg was hosting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on her official visit to Norway. It was a visit conducted under heavy security.

On Monday, an Oslo city court judge ordered the defendant held in remand custody at least until July 2, while police continue to investigate the charges against him. Neither he nor his Labour Party stepfather have been publicly identified .

Defendant had fled Norway
Defense attorney Oscar Ihlebæk told Dagbladet that he has represented the man for the past six months. “Our client is charged with making death threats against his stepfather, a well-known Norwegian politician, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg,” Ihlebæk said.

The man also faces several other criminal charges and reportedly has a police record, but didn’t come to the attention of PST until last autumn. Hugubakken declined further comment because PST’s investigation is ongoing. Dagbladet reported that neither Stoltenberg nor his staff wanted to comment on the case

Dagbladet reported that the man fled Norway last year and has been residing in China. “I’ve had contact with him since January,” Ihlebæk sad. “He came back to Norway last Friday. We had a three-hour-long meeting at my office. A few hours later he was arrested by police.”

Heavily armed police arrested him where he was staying on Friday afternoon. “Our client said he couldn’t contact us, and that a police officer pointed a machine gun at his stomach,” Ihlebæk told Dagbladet. “He viewed the arrest as an overreaction and is clearly upset over what happened.” PST officials later apologized that the man was prevented from contacting his lawyer.

‘Desperate’
The charges against him involve several concrete threats against his stepfather and Stoltenberg that police took seriously. Dagbladet reported the man had become embroiled in some major conflicts with other persons while living in western Norway and been threatened himself. He appealed for help from his family, allegedly demanding that his stepfather use his influence to fend off the threats, but no help was forthcoming.

“Our client was so desperate he fled the country,” Ihlebæk said. “Our client believes his stepfather isn’t trustworthy, and the politician isn’t credible and has no respect.”

He reportedly lodged his threats against his stepfather and Stoltenberg from abroad. An international warrant was issued for his arrest last autumn. He now faces 15 years in prison under Norwegian law.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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