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Malaysian citizen arrested for alleged espionage activities in Norway

A 25-year-old Malaysian national was arrested for alleged espionage activities, including wiretapping, in Norway.

The individual denies the charges, and authorities are conducting a thorough investigation.

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NORWAY: A 25-year-old Malaysian national was arrested on espionage charges in Norway, accused of engaging in signals intelligence activities, including wiretapping. These allegations have been firmly denied by the individual, as reported by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).

The arrest, conducted on the evening of Friday (8 Sept) was carried out by the Norwegian intelligence service, PST.

The specific target and motivations behind the espionage remain undisclosed at this time.

It is important to note that while the suspect is of Malaysian origin, there is no suspicion of Malaysia’s direct involvement in these alleged espionage activities.

Authorities have revealed that evidence suggests the suspect’s rental car was captured on surveillance cameras concurrently with signal assessments conducted near crucial locations, including the Government Quarters, the Prime Minister’s office, and the Ministry of Defence.

Thomas Fredrik Blom, a police attorney at PST, has stated that the investigation is in its early stages, focusing on gathering substantial evidence.

Blom

The arrested individual, a student not currently enrolled in a Norwegian educational institution, has only been in Norway for a short duration.

Following his arrest on 8 September, he has been detained for four weeks, with the initial two weeks spent in isolation.

Law enforcement officials have seized various data-carrying devices and electronic items from the suspect for further examination.

The charges against him are rooted in Section 121 of the Criminal Code, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to three years for individuals found guilty of collecting or possessing secret information that could compromise fundamental national interests.

Considering the complexity and scale of the alleged espionage activities, authorities suspect the involvement of more individuals in the case.

However, they have not disclosed whether the suspect had any state actors as collaborators or specified his objectives in Norway.

Sigmond

To mitigate the risk of evidence tampering, the police are exercising caution by not divulging additional details about the ongoing investigation.

The arrested suspect has declined to provide any statements to PST, with his defense attorney, Aase Karin Sigmond, citing his poor physical condition following what she described as a “dramatic” arrest.

Both Sigmond and Blom have refrained from providing further information about the arrest, characterizing it as “undramatic.”

Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea Identified as Threats to Norway

In PST’s 2023 threat assessment, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have been identified as state actors posing a significant intelligence threat to Norway.

Signals intelligence, the field in which the suspect is believed to have been involved, encompasses intercepting various forms of communication, including radio transmissions, mobile phone calls, or text messages.

Such eavesdropping for intelligence purposes is typically illegal and demands specialized equipment and decryption capabilities, often necessitating substantial resources and expertise.

The National Security Authority (NSM) is collaborating with PST on the case but has refrained from disclosing further details to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

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