Norway gets tougher on US’ spying

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The Norwegian government toughened its stand against alleged US spying Thursday, calling in US Embassy officials in Oslo to explain themselves. The meeting at Norway’s Defense Ministry was the Norwegian way of expressing its displeasure with what otherwise is the country’s most important ally.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg has already stated that espionage against your own allies is “unacceptable.” At issue is whether Danish officials perhaps unwittingly helped US intelligence agents gain access several years ago to cables that run through Denmark, and thus gain access to top politicians’ communication in Norway, Sweden, Germany and France. Solberg called Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday to stress that it’s also “unnecessary to spy on your friends and allies.”

Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen repeated Norway’s concerns over the alleged spying to representatives of the US Embassy, which hasn’t had an ambassador since US President Donald Trump’s envoy left Oslo in late 2019. Bakke-Jensen has recently been especially accommodating to the Americans, not least after getting caught in the Frode Berg spying scandal that embarrassed Norway and may even have compromised US intelligence in Russia.

He told state broadcaster NRK on Thursday, though, that “we had a need to send a clear message” to the Americans that “it’s completely unacceptable to spy on your allies.” He said he was told that US officials changed their practice of engaging in surveillance of their allies in 2014. “This is an issue that we must work on together with our allies to get to the bottom of what happened,” Bakke-Jensen told NRK.

newsinenglish.no staff