A 25-year-old Malaysian national has been arrested for espionage for allegedly participating in signals intelligence activities in Norway, including wiretapping. The person denies the charges, reports NRK.
The arrest took place on Friday evening, carried out by the Norwegian intelligence service PST, with the specific target of the espionage unclear. Although the man is of Malaysian origin, there is no suspicion that Malaysia is involved in the espionage business.
According to authorities, evidence suggests that the suspect’s rental car was recorded on surveillance cameras at the same time that signal assessments were conducted near significant locations, including the Government Quarters, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Defense.
Thomas Fredrik Blom, police attorney in PST, has stated that they are in the initial phase of an extensive investigation aimed at obtaining evidence.
The suspect, who is a student who is not enrolled at a Norwegian educational institution, has only been in Norway for a short period. He was arrested on 8 September and subsequently detained for four weeks, with the first two weeks in solitary confinement.
The police have seized various data-carrying devices and electronic objects from suspects, which will be investigated further. The charges against him are based on Section 121 of the Criminal Code, which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison for people who collect or possess secret information that could damage fundamental national interests.
The authorities suspect that there may be several people involved in the case, given the complexity and scope of the alleged espionage activities. However, they have not disclosed whether the suspect had any state actors as collaborators or specified his goals in Norway.
Due to the potential risk of tampering with evidence, police are cautious about revealing further details of the ongoing investigation.
The suspect refused to give any explanations to PST, and his defender, lawyer Aase Karin Sigmond, explained that he was in bad shape after what she described as a “dramatic” arrest.
Both Sigmond and Blom have refrained from giving further details about the arrest, although Blom characterized it as “undramatic”.
Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are threats to Norway
In PST’s threat assessment from 2023, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea were identified as state actors that pose a significant intelligence threat to Norway.
Signal intelligence, which the suspect is believed to have worked with, involves the interception of various forms of communication, such as radio broadcasts, mobile phone conversations or text messages. Intercepting such communications for intelligence purposes is usually illegal, and requires specialized equipment and decryption capabilities, often requiring significant resources and expertise.
The National Security Agency (NSM) is assisting PST in the case, but has refrained from revealing further information to protect the ongoing investigation.
Source: The Nordic Page