A 34-year-old Norwegian from Verdal in Trøndelag was sentenced to prison for seven-and-a-half years on Monday. Kristian Michelsen appealed on the spot, while prosecutors are also considering an appeal because they don’t think his jail term is long enough.
Michelsen traveled to Syria in 2014 to fight for IS but claims he never took part in any actual battles. State broadcaster NRK reported that the court verdict, however, found him guilty of intending to “create serious fear among the Syrian people” by traveling into the war-torn country and taking part in IS’ training programs and weapons training.
The verdict also contended that there is “no doubt” that he’d intended to join IS. It cited communication he had with a sister in Norway where he wrote that he was a member of IS and proud of that. Prosecutors had asked for a nine-year prison term, a relatively strict sentence in Norway, because of his IS connections.
Michelsen himself has admitted he was taken into IS when he arrived in Syria, but he testified that he quickly changed his mind and wanted to leave the group. He claimed he later fled and headed for the border to Turkey, where he was arrested on April 30, 2016. He was deported and taken into custody by Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste).
Michelsen also claimed in court that he’d had a troubled childhood, plagued by bullying, family problems and substance abuse. His defense attorney, Siri Langseth, said she had no comment on the court’s decision, other than that it will be appealed.