A court in suburban Oslo ordered on Tuesday that a 48-year-old engineer suspended by Aker Solutions be held in remand custody for at least four weeks, initially with no access to media or personal communications, while police continue to investigate terror charges against him. He denies having done anything wrong.
The law he’s accused of violating prohibits encouraging terrorism, recruiting people for terrorist acts or offering instruction in methods that can be used for terrorist acts.
“We believe he has spread information on the Internet, among other things to carry out acts of terrorism,” prosecutor Signe Aaling told newspaper Aftenposten. She would not detail the type of information allegedly spread by the engineer at Aker Solutions, which specializes in offshore technology and installations for the oil and gas industry.
The court (Asker og Bærum tingrett) went along with the prosecutors’ request that the engineer, originally from Iraq, be held in police custody following his arrest in his office at Aker Solutions’ headquarters at Fornebu, west of Oslo, on Monday afternoon.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the man, whose identity is being withheld in line with press practice in Norway, has said he fled his homeland of Iraq during the rebellion against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He came to Norway in the 1990s and has been active in a local Iraqi association.
He did not appear at his custody hearing on Tuesday where he was represented by attorney Brynjar Meling, who also has defended various other clients facing charges of terrorism.
“He is a sensible man who understands the situation he has landed in and the rules that apply to custody,” Meling told NRK. “So after an overall evaluation and the background for the charges against him, he wants to give police the peace and quiet needed to conduct their investigation.” He thus went along with the custody order on Tuesday and had no plans to appeal it.
Details of what led to the charges remain sketchy, with neither police, intelligence unit PST nor Aker Solutions willing or able to respond to questions from Norwegian media. The company has said that the engineer was found, during a routine security check, to have “violated the company’s internal regulations. Because of the nature of the case, we called the police,” the communications chief for Aker Solutions, Bunny Nooryani, told Aftenposten.
“It looks like Aker Solutions’ internal routines led to his exposure,” Arne Røed Simonsen of Norway’s business security council NSR (Næringslivets sikkerhetsråd) told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Tuesday. “It’s good that they had internal routines that can catch deviations from in-house regulations.”
Other companies appeared to be following the case closely, because of the security issues it raises. Jannik Lindbæk Jr, information director at Statoil, told DN that Statoil itself had intensified security around its physical locations, its information technology and personnel since it was the target of terrorists in Algeria.
Lindbæk said it was “challenging” for a company to secure itself against people who may “exploit legitimate access to our systems for unauthorized goals.” Stressing that he was speaking in general terms, Lindbæk told DN that it was difficult for companies to fully protect themselves in a system that by its nature must also be based on confidence.