A university researcher arrested in Northern Norway last week on charges of actually being a Russian spy has decided not to cooperate with police after all. His defense attorney had initially said he was willing to answer questions and give police time to investigate his case, but then he changed his mind.
Defense attorney Marijana Lozic told Norway’s TV2 that “he has followed the news during the weekend and therefore chooses not to say anything at this point in time.” Newspaper VG has also reported that he had purchased a one-way ticket out of Norway for the day after he was arrested while on his way to work last Tuesday.
He’s been working for the past year as a researcher at the University of Tromsø under the name of José Assis Giammaria, and claiming to be a Brazilian citizen. Norway’s police intelligence agency PST believes he’s instead a 44-year-old colonel in the Russian intelligence agency GRU named Mikhail Valerijevitsj Mikusjin, who built up a new identity over many years and came to Norway after obtaining both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Canada.
A court in Oslo ordered that he be held in custody for at least another four weeks, while police continue to investigate. He’s charged with espionage against Norwegian national interests.