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Monday, February 26, 2024

Justice minister threatened

Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) is investigating threats lodged against Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara of the conservative Progress Party. Both his family car and their home have been hit by taggers, and someone also apparently tried to set the car on fire.

Tor Mikkel Wara took over as Norway’s new justice minister in April. Now his home and car have been subjected to vandalism. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

“PST can confirm that an investigation has begun into threats against people in authority,” PST spokesman Martin Bernsen said Thursday afternoon. The investigation began, he said, in cooperation with the Oslo Police District, but PST is now taking over the investigation.

PST is responsible for the security of government officials. Bernsen said there were “several aspects” to the threats against the justice minister that have prompted the police to categorize the case as “extremely serious.”

Both the wall of Wara’s home and his family’s white Ford automobile have been tagged with both red paint and a marking pen, with the word RASIST scribble in all capital letters on the hood of the car. That means “racist” in Norwegian.

The tagger seems to have made a spelling mistake on the house, writing RASISIT, but police believe that was also meant to be the Norwegian equivalent of “racist.” Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the car was also defaced with a swastika.

Police also found string leading into the car’s gasoline tank, prompting police to believe that the vandals intended to set the car on fire.

Security questions
Government ministers in Norway have been routinely accompanied by bodyguards in recent years, especially the prime- and justice ministers. The ministers also are provided with special vehicles and drivers who routinely transport them, so Wara has not needed his personal car on a daily basis since taking over as head of the justice minstry just this past spring. Questions were rising Thursday afternoon over how anyone would have been allowed to get close enough to his home to deface it.

Wara, known for being a jovial politician who represents the conservative Progress Party, was accompanied by two bodyguards when he appeared in Parliament on Wednesday. He has declined comment on the threats made against him, as have both the justice ministry itself and the Office of the Prime Minister, referring all questions to PST.

The threats against Wara were made public on the same day that police in nearby Ski confirmed they’d been sent a bomb that was “meant to kill.” Bernsen of PST told NRK that investigators were looking for any links between the two incidents.

The threat also come after local politicians in Oslo’s City Hall also felt threatened by a man who’d asked for a meeting with the City Council’s culture committee but then behaved aggressively and made many racist comments.

Solberg harassed, too
Prime Minister Erna Solberg, meanwhile, also wrote on her Facebook page that she finally has felt compelled to close her guest page on the social media site where the public could write messages and comment. “As prime minister I have wanted to have an open Facebook page, where folks from all over the country can give me feedback,” Solberg wrote. “My impression is that folks like to be able to send response directly to me, both praise and criticism.”

She noted, however, that “in the past few weeks,” there had been “extremely high activity” on both the comments fields and guest page of her Facebook page. She’s always wanted a lot of tolerance for what’s written there, she claimed, “but I can’t allow threats and harassment against other people. I will therefore be closing the guest page.”

Solberg plans to keep her comments fields open, “but I urge everyone to stay on topic in the various posts. I’m happy to receive criticism, but normal human decency is expected. All forms of racism and extremely offensive remarks will be deleted.”

Solberg’s message came after newspaper Dagsavisen reported Thursday morning that Solberg had allowed several hate mails and threats to remain on her guest page, including one that appeared to be a bomb threat against the Parliament “with all the politicians inside.” It came in response to the Solberg government’s decision to support the United Nation’s pact for handling migration., which has set off demonstrations and street brawls in Oslo. Berglund



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