Norwegian police have dropped espionage charges against a 25-year-old Malaysian man caught with listening devices, so-called IMSI catchers, outside government offices earlier this month. Now they suspect him of fraud instead.
Norway’s police intelligence unit PST confirmed to state broadcaster NRK on Friday that they no longer think the defendant was spying for a foreign state. Now he’s suspected of fraudulently gathering information for economic gain.
He was arrested after surveillance cameras picked up his rental car and electronic signals from it while it was parked outside the Office of the Prime Minister, the Defense Ministry and other government offices in Oslo. He was charged with trying to tap into communications from Norwegian state operations, and thought to have been operating on behalf of a country other than Malaysia.
Now Norway’s white-collar crime unit is investigating what it described as an extensive case involving suspected organized crime. The man has been described as a student but he has no connections to any schools in Norway. Prosecutors will ask a local court next week to keep him in custody on altered charges.