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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Police release right-wing extremist who threatened to bomb Parliament

UPDATED: The 27-year-old right-wing extremist who unleashed a massive police operation on Wednesday, after he was overheard talking about plans to blow up the Norwegian Parliament, was a free man by the weekend. Police claimed they had no legal grounds to hold him in custody any longer.

The young Norwegian man from Hønefoss has made threats many times before, against the Norwegian government and especially against immigrants and Muslims, but police lawyers determined the law gave them no basis to keep him in jail. He remains charged and under investigation, but the most prosecutors could do was to issue a restraining order against him that he stay at least 300 meters away from the Parliament for the next six months, or be subject to arrest again.

Drunk and ‘sorry’
The defendant, who has not been publicly identified in keeping with local press tradition, has claimed he was so drunk on Tuesday night (when he claimed during a bus ride from Hønefoss to Oslo that he would blow up the Parliament) that he doesn’t remember anything. He has, through his defense attorney, apologized for the uproar he created, including the massive police response that set off a major manhunt, led to the evacuation of 41 persons from a residential complex in the middle of the night, left the Parliament surrounded by heavily armed police and closed off all streets around the building during the morning rush hour.

“When he was told what (his remarks on the bus) had led to, he thought it was surreal and he’s very sorry,” his defense attorney Tor Kjærvik told reporters on Thursday.

The defendant finally had been arrested at his girlfriend’s apartment in Oslo’s Lambertseter district on Wednesday, around 12 hours after he’d set off the most serious terror alarm in Oslo since the July 22 attacks in 2011.

The police intelligence unit PST will continue to investigate the incident and he faces prison if he violates the terms of his release.

Long record of prior offenses
He’s been in trouble with the police before and has a series of convictions for break-ins and narcotics offenses. When he was captured, police found the bullet-proof vest witnesses on the bus said he had been wearing, along with a pistol. He told police he had felt threatened himself.

It’s also been reported that he frequently has published threats on social media against government ministers including new Minister of Culture Hadia Tajik, whose parents immigrated to Norway from Pakistan. Tajik, who is Muslim, confirmed on the popular Scandinvian talk show Skavlan Friday night that he had written “nasty” things about her and others but said she usually tries to overlook such harassment “and just do my job.”

The man has a record of publishing hateful remarks against immigrants and Muslims, and he also has ridiculed the leader of the Labour Party’s youth organization Eskil Pedersen who is gay and supports immigration to Norway. Pedersen is a survivor of the July 22, 2011 terrorist attacks by another right-wing extremist that left 77 persons dead.

Pedersen had supported the massive police response to the bomb threat made by the defendant who was released on Friday. “We can’t live with threats against democracy or politicians,” Pedersen told newspaper Dagsavisen earlier this week. “I expect the police to take them seriously.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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