A diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Oslo was given 72 hours to leave the country after being called into Norway’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday afternoon, reports state broadcaster NRK. The Russian man, who has been attached to the embassy’s trade section, was eating pizza with a Norwegian-Indian contact Saturday afternoon when police arrived to arrest the contact and charge him with espionage.
The Norwegian-Indian, now identified as Harsharn Singh Tathgar, has been working in the oil and gas devision of Oslo-based DNV GL for several years. He has since admitted that he has delivered information to the Russian man and received money from him in return. The information allegedly involves state secrets, and Tathgar was ordered held in custody for at least four weeks, while the investigation into his alleged espionage proceeds.
Ministry communications chief Trude Maaseide said the Russian man, who was not identified, was expelled “because he has carried out actions that can’t be reconciled with his role and status as a diplomat.” He was also declared “persona non grata,” meaning he’ll never be allowed to enter Norway again.
Maaseide said the Norwegian government had so far not received any special reaction from Russian authorities or from the embassy in Oslo. She said Norwegian officials don’t want the arrest or expulsion to influence overall relations with Russia: “Norway has a broad cooperation with Russia in several areas and that still applies.”
Norway last expelled a Russia diplomat on March 26, 2018, in a case viewed by Russian authorities as retaliation for their arrest of former Norwegian border inspector Frode Berg in Moscow in December 2017. Berg was sentenced to a lengthy jail term but was finally released with the aid of Lithuania as part of a prisoner swap in late 2019. Berg had been recruited as a courier for Norway’s military intelligence agency in what later turned into a scandal that left Berg eligible for compensation from the Norwegian government.