Justice Minister gains Parliament’s approval but faces uphill struggle / News / The Foreigner

Justice Minister gains Parliament’s approval but faces uphill struggle. The results of enquiries into the US embassy spy scandal got broad Parliamentary approval, but there is still work to do. Labour’s (Ap) Minister of Justice Knut Storberget unveiled a seven-point plan, with measures designed to ensure this type of incident does not happen again). Minister Storberget, who claims he was unaware of the Americans’ operation, confirmed the PST (Police Security Service) never gave the embassy permission to establish its own Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU).

us, embassy, oslo, surveillance, sdu, knut, storberget, pst, police, security, service, justice, trine, skei, grande, akhtar, chaudhry, siv, jensen, progress, conservative, socialist, left, politics



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Justice Minister gains Parliament’s approval but faces uphill struggle

Published on Friday, 19th November, 2010 at 11:28 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 19th November 2010 at 15:58.

The results of enquiries into the US embassy spy scandal got broad Parliamentary approval, but there is still work to do.

Justice Minister Storberget at PST (illus. ph.)
Justice Minister Storberget at PST (illus. ph.)
Photo: Ministry of Justice/Flickr


Clean noses for now

Labour’s (Ap) Minister of Justice Knut Storberget unveiled a seven-point plan, with measures designed to ensure this type of incident does not happen again).

Minister Storberget, who claims he was unaware of the Americans’ operation, confirmed the PST (Police Security Service) never gave the embassy permission to establish its own Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU).

Three representatives from three different Parties tell The Foreigner they were satisfied with the minister’s explanation, two believe there is no evidence to suggest the embassy did anything illegal for now.

“The Conservative Party considered the minister’s orientation yesterday was both good and very thorough.  In our view, it confirmed that the Norwegian police have been aware of the situation, although it was unknown to the relevant ministers. So far there is no evidence that the embassy has been engaged in any unlawful activity, but this matter is subject to ongoing police investigation,” it writes in an email.

“He gave a very thorough explanation, which was welcomed by Parliament,” Akhtar Chaudhry MP, SV’s (Socialist Left) member of the Parliamentary Judiciary Committee says.

“I'm glad that the report the Minister of Justice Knut Storberget gave to the Parliament today showed that the investigation so far has not uncovered any offense,” says Progress Party (FrP) leader Siv Jensen.

Secrecy problem                                                                     

Ms Jensen continues by saying she believes Minister Storberget’s account throws new light on the case, and reduces concerns some Norwegians had after the case first appeared in the media.

Mr Chaudhry says his Party does not feel completely reassured, however.

“There are still a number of questions hanging in the air. SV is concerned about the mindset and culture in the PST.”

Last week, fellow Party member Hallgeir Langeland said he was outraged politicians had not been informed by either the PST or Oslo police that they were aware of the SDU’s existence. Mr Chaudhry echoes his sentiments, also highlighting an ethical dilemma.

“Although it [the PST] knew about the SDU’s operation for almost ten years, and it was raised on a high level, it did not inform the political leadership. Is this OK? Is it acceptable that Norwegian citizens are subjected to surveillance by foreign authorities without the knowledge of the political leadership? Another question is what sort of society do we want? How broad a surveillance are Norwegian and world citizens willing to accept?”

Whilst he has no quarrel with the Americans regarding their security needs, he goes on to question why the embassy felt it had to conduct a stealth operation.

“I understand authorities’ need to protect their citizens and own interests, but if the surveillance was innocent and legitimate, why did it not say anything about the SDU’s existence, or give access to their office and information?”

Sovereignty and liability

According to Opposition representatives, the Americans may still have acted improperly.

“Allies and friends must comply with laws and regulations,” says Liberal Party (V) leader Trine Skei Grande.

“The Progress Party has a great respect for America's security needs but this must, of course, not interfere with Norwegian citizens’ legal safety,” Ms Jensen says.

Parliament is now to debate the issue; there will also be an ongoing departmental and police probe.

“There are still some ambiguities that should be closely examined. It is important that further investigation includes what so far appears to be unclear,” says Ms Jensen.

According to Trine Skei Grande believes Minister Storberget also faces some accountability issues.

“I think the Minister has a challenge in looking at the culture and consciousness within the different security organizations. One should not operate at the extremities, even when this concerns our close friends.”




Published on Friday, 19th November, 2010 at 11:28 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 19th November 2010 at 15:58.

This post has the following tags: us, embassy, oslo, surveillance, sdu, knut, storberget, pst, police, security, service, justice, trine, skei, grande, akhtar, chaudhry, siv, jensen, progress, conservative, socialist, left, politics.





  
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