The arrest in Oslo this weekend of a right-wing nationalist from the US marks the latest example of how Norway’s police intelligence unit PST views conservative extremism as a serious security threat. The American, identified as Greg Johnson, was arrested at what was supposed to be a secret gathering to promote racist and anti-Semitic ideology.
“He stands for and communicates an extreme right-wing ideology,” PST spokesman Martin Bernsen told Norwegian media after the arrest on Saturday. “There’s a danger that it can result in violence. He will therefore be sent out of the country.”
Police and prosecutors were working intensely on Sunday to have Johnson deported. State broadcaster NRK reported Sunday afternoon that Johnson was resisting deportation, claiming that he has consistently condemned both violence and terror including right-wing terrorism. His defense attorney later reported that immigration officials would deport Johnson on Monday, on the grounds he poses a threat to national interests.
His presence at Saturday’s conference in Oslo that was arranged by the right-wing network Scandza Forum nonetheless attracted around 50 demonstrators who yelled “No racism in our streets.” Scandza has held similar gatherings in Sweden and Denmark, inviting right-wing extremist speakers from several countries.
Norwegian newssite Filter Nyheter reported that Johnson has supported at least some aspects of the mass murder carried out in 2011 by a Norwegian white supremacist who blamed Norway’s Labour Party for allowing too many immigrants into the country. Other media outlets have reported that Johnson has called for creation of a state where only white people can live, and that he wants all Jews to move to Israel. He’s a strong opponent of immigration.
He has denied claims that he’s a white supremacist himself, simply arguing against races and religions living together. NRK reported that he has conceded himself that “white nationalism is unavoidably anti-Semitic.”
‘Worrisome development’ of right-wing extremism
Johnson, based in Seattle, has often been invited to speak in Europe at gatherings of nationalistic organizations. Thomas Hegghammer, a senior researcher at Norway’s defense research institute FFI, told Filter Nyheter that Johnson should have been denied entry into Norway before Saturday’s conference. PST couldn’t say whether such a denial had been considered.
“What’s important now is that he was arrested before the (speaking) arrangement began,” Bernsen of PST told Aftenposten. “We are working to keep this milieu as small as possible. It’s important to stop those trying to radicalize others and coax them into a more extreme direction.”
Bernsen said PST “has seen worrisome development of right-wing extremism.” PST prevailed in obtaining a deportation order that would allow the immigration officials to send Johnson out of the country.