US embassy had alerted police about closet surveillance / News / The Foreigner

US embassy had alerted police about closet surveillance. Questions about who knew what about the spy scandal involving the US embassy in Oslo remain unanswered, but there is evidence to suggest police had already been told about the secret operation. Oslo police are saying nothing, however Aftenposten alleges the city’s Chief of police was warned on several occasions. Anonymous sources the paper has spoken with confirm the embassy first informed police about its Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) in 2000, the same year the team moved in to the neighbouring building.

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US embassy had alerted police about closet surveillance

Published on Thursday, 11th November, 2010 at 13:21 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 11th November 2010 at 22:48.

Questions about who knew what about the spy scandal involving the US embassy in Oslo remain unanswered, but there is evidence to suggest police had already been told about the secret operation.

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


Suppressed

Oslo police are saying nothing, however Aftenposten alleges the city’s Chief of police was warned on several occasions.

Anonymous sources the paper has spoken with confirm the embassy first informed police about its Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) in 2000, the same year the team moved in to the neighbouring building.

Several warnings also came from within police ranks and the Police Security Service (PST). The operation was hushed up because of fears it would create a backlash, not just due to involvement by Norwegian ex security personnel, but also because Oslo police knew the SDU existed.

The PST itself is involved in the scandal as well. There have been allegations the Americans were granted extended surveillance powers, though acting head Roger Berg has told NRK his organisation “cannot recall ever having received any enquiries about this.”

Both Conservative (H) and Socialist Left (SV) politicians were outraged the PST never informed them about the operation.

“It is scandalous, not least because the American Embassy is involved. It is also disgraceful that the PST has known about this, without informing us,” Hallgeir Langeland MP, a member of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs said last week.

Denials

Meanwhile, the US embassy has issued several press statements since TV2 broke the story last week, accusing TV2 of spreading “insinuations and allegations. [...] We regret that an inflammatory and inaccurate report about a U.S. State Department security programme has led to unease and concern among some of our friends.”

It also denies the SDU is a secret program, or an intelligence unit.

“It is exactly what its title states:  a program designed to detect surveillance against U.S. posts overseas. This important Department program emerged from the lessons of such tragic incidents as the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings in 1998, in which our missions had been under hostile surveillance by the terrorists for some time before the attacks…As we have learned from recent events throughout Europe, including Norway, no nation is immune from terrorist threats. The SDU does not target host country or host country citizens. It is merely a way of detecting suspicious activities near embassy facilities and personnel in cooperation with host authorities responsible for embassy security,” it writes.

Accountable

The embassy says it regards Norway as a close friend and ally, and fully respects Norwegian law.

The U.S. stands ready to answer any questions the Government of Norway might ask us on this or any other matter, and will do so in government to government channels.”

However, it is still not clear whether answers will be forthcoming anytime soon, according to Dagbladet. The Department of State first has to repeal the Norwegian security personnel’s oath of silence, employed by the embassy to carry out the operation, as they were allegedly recruited on American soil.

Meanwhile, Aftenposten reports Norwegian police are refusing to comment until Minister of Justice Knut Storberget has delivered his account to Parliament, expected next week.




Published on Thursday, 11th November, 2010 at 13:21 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 11th November 2010 at 22:48.

This post has the following tags: us, embassy, oslo, department, state, simas, security, incident, management, analytics, system, sdu, surveillance, detection, unit, knut, storberget, hallgeir, langeland.





  
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