Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) is under fire for using an undercover informant to snitch on far-to-extreme left-wing organisations following media-uncovered revelations. The matter could have political repercussions.
Criticism comes from former Supreme Court Justice Ketil Lund, who headed the so-called Lund Commission in the ‘90s.
The government-appointed committee of inquiry’s brief was to examine allegations of illegal surveillance of Norwegian citizens, both domestically and internationally.
Its report, presented to Parliament after two years in 1996, showed this had been extensive. The UK MI5-comparable PST (then known as POT), had feared Norwegian Communists (NKP), independent leftist radical organization Blitz in Oslo, and certain other individuals were a threat to national security.
Ketil Lund questions, today, the PST’s need to take these steps.
“It’s hard for me to see that any basis existed for Blitz and these international socialists having a operation that challenged the very interests that the PST is employed to protect,” he told NRK. “As far as I understand, Blitz was well-known to the PST at the time. Some [people] clearly latched on to incidents of disturbing the peace now and then, but this is a matter for riot police, not the PST.”
Mr Lund comes with his censure after Tuesday evening’s ‘Panorama’-type TV documentary ‘Brennpunkt’ on NRK.
The programme focused on PST agent Christian Høibø, who for over ten years was involved with Norway’s extreme political movements including Blitz, and extreme rightist organization the Norwegian Defence League (NDL).
Now 32-year-old Høibø is the first infiltrator working for the PST to come forward to tell his story. He was able to gather information on these political organisations and pass it on to the PST. He was recruited in 2002 while working as a freelance journalist in Oslo.
Høibø claims he also threw convicted terrorist Anders Behring Breivik out of the NDL for being too extreme.
“We considered his rhetoric to be personally directed against Muslims. It wasn’t as politically ideological as the NDL wanted to be either,” Høibo declared.
He has now made the decision to stop being an infiltrator for the PST not being able to talk about his work. According to the broadcaster, PST informants are completely hush-hush.
“You have to be alarmingly good at juggling personalities in order to do this for 10 years. For me [the roles were as] anarchist, communist, ‘Blitzer’ or father. One has to be able to exist as and be comfortable with this. It's deceit that’s being conducted. You simply have to the ability to find an on-off switch to the mask when needed. You also need a memory prevents you making mistakes along the way in the story you have told,” Høibø explained to NRK.
Socialist Left Party (SV) MP Hallgeir Langeland now intends to take the matter to Parliament to investigate if politicians have been subjected to illegal surveillance.
“The Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee’s responsibility is to check whether they [the PST] have received approval to engage in such type of infiltration activities they have conducted to the Left. It’s an extremely serious matter if they haven’t,” Mr Langeland declared.