Updated: Slight progress in US embassy surveillance stalemate / News / The Foreigner

Updated: Slight progress in US embassy surveillance stalemate. Norwegian and Swedish authorities’ powerlessness over inquiries into US embassy surveillance silence could be ending. The American government is now looking into possibly releasing Surveillance Detection Unit employees (SDU) from their oath of confidentiality. There was public and political outcry last year after TV2 revealed SDU staff attached to the US embassy in Oslo recorded sensitive details to Norwegians outside the building for a period of 10 years. Some had service experience from the Norwegian police, defence, and private security branches.

usembassy, oslo, surveillancedetectionunit, anti-terror, simas



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Updated: Slight progress in US embassy surveillance stalemate

Published on Thursday, 3rd March, 2011 at 10:16 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 3rd March 2011 at 17:30.

Norwegian and Swedish authorities’ powerlessness over inquiries into US embassy surveillance silence could be ending.

US Embassy, Oslo
US Embassy, Oslo
Photo: © 2009 Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons


Stealth

The American government is now looking into possibly releasing Surveillance Detection Unit employees (SDU) from their oath of confidentiality.

There was public and political outcry last year after TV2 revealed SDU staff attached to the US embassy in Oslo recorded sensitive details to Norwegians outside the building for a period of 10 years. Some had service experience from the Norwegian police, defence, and private security branches.

The details were then passed to and disseminated by embassy officials, before subsequently being entered into the Americans’ worldwide anti-terror SIMAS database.

In the wake of scandal, there were differing opinions regarding who was informed about what, and Minister of Justice Knut Storberget came with a seven-point plan, outlining procedures to prevent this type of matter occurring again.

It is also still unclear as to whether the US embassy breached Norwegian law or if SDU employees were armed.

Impasse

Investigations by Norwegian and Swedish authorities are now at a standstill. Both countries have been unable to interview key personnel who signed the Americans’ oath of silence.

“During the past few weeks, we have called in those people who worked for the SDU group outside the US embassy in Stockholm. They say they cannot account for their actions because of a confidentiality agreement they have made with US authorities,” Thomas Linstrand, heading the police investigation in Sweden, tells NRK.

This has frustrated both Swedish and Norwegian politicians.

Swedish Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) MP Lena Olsson, who sits on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, says she finds this “too awful”.

“You cannot allow them to go round carrying these secrets. They are Swedish and Norwegian nationals.”

Anders B Werp, the Norwegian Conservative Party’s (H) spokesperson for justice, thinks Norwegian police should be able to conduct their interviews as soon as possible.

“It has attracted considerable attention and raised many questions. My advice to the American embassy is that it contributes to a speedy solution in this matter,” he says.

Light

US embassy Deputy Public Affairs Officer Patrick Geraghty tells the Foreigner he believes the process is moving, but could take a little time.

“Any decision here has ramifications, not just regarding the agreement between Norway and the US, but the rest of the world. In general terms, such matters involve the State Department and security, as well as diplomatic agreements contained in the Vienna Convention. Although I have not been involved in any conversations between the US embassy and Norwegian officials, I am very hopeful there will be a response sooner, rather than later.”




Published on Thursday, 3rd March, 2011 at 10:16 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 3rd March 2011 at 17:30.

This post has the following tags: usembassy, oslo, surveillancedetectionunit, anti-terror, simas.





  
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