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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Police appeal extremist’s release

Police in western Norway are appealing Thursday’s court-ordered release of an extremist Norwegian blogger, whom prosecutors contend has urged violence and issued death threats against the police themselves.

Norway’s Supreme Court must now determine whether statements blogger Eivind Berge has published actually violated laws against threats being made in public.

Defining a public forum
“The police believe the Internet is ‘public’ in legal terms,” inspector Liv Karlsen of the Hordaland Police District told newspaper Bergens Tidende. A local court had agreed but an appeals court on Friday ruled that Berge’s statements weren’t made publicly because they were published on his “private” blog on the Internet instead of in more traditional media.

The appeals court thus ordered Berge’s immediate release pending the prosecutor’s appeal to the country’s highest court. The case has attracted interest, since it not only involves extremism in Norway but also since others including Islamic cleric Mullah Krekar have been ordered held in prison because of alleged threats made over the Internet. Krekar remains in prison, while Berge has been set free.

Berge himself has been described by experts on extremism as not necessarily a right-wing extremist but an “anti-feminist” who believes men are subject to oppression and should fight back. Berge, age 34, claims that he’s merely published “expressions,” not threats, of his opinions. Police, however, have charged him with encouraging his readers to murder police officers. He was arrested by police earlier this month and one expert on extremism, Øyvind Strømmen, has said he can understand why.

“His ideas are anti-feminist and he justifies violence, also, for example, the rape of women,” Strømmen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I didn’t get the impression (after meeting him last fall) that he was a dangerous person, but he has very extreme opinions. The fact he doesn’t look dangerous doesn’t mean he isn’t, and the police can have information that the rest of us don’t have.”

Strømmen also noted that police are paying much more attention to extremists since last year’s terrorist attacks in Norway, carried out by a right-wing extremist who opposes multi-culturalism in Norway.

Berge’s attorney said his client was pleased he was released but not surprised. Berge himself also said he no longer wanted to engage in criminal acts after spending the past few weeks in prison. He admitted that he has been willing to carry out threats against the police, but that such violence “isn’t something I’m going to continue to encourage.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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