Norway, Sudan, expel diplomats over spying allegations

PST headquarters in OsloBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Norway and Sudan have announced tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions over allegations of espionage. On Tuesday, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that a Sudanese diplomat stationed in the Norwegian capital Oslo would be expelled. The diplomat, whose name and position at the Sudanese embassy were not disclosed, allegedly engaged in “activities incompatible with his status under the protection of the Vienna Convention” —standard diplomatic lingo for espionage. The Reuters news agency reported that the diplomat was expelled after Norway’s main counterintelligence intelligence agency, the Police Security Service (PST), arrested and charged a 38-year-old Sudanese immigrant with espionage. The unnamed man, who was arrested in Trondheim, said he had been instructed by Sudanese embassy personnel to spy on the activities of the Sudanese expatriate community in Norway. He had previously been observed by the PST having a meeting with the same Sudanese diplomat who was subsequently expelled from Norway. Both men were arrested on Tuesday. While the unnamed diplomat has been expelled, the 38-year-old immigrant remains imprisoned in Oslo on espionage charges. According to a statement from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tuesday’s arrests marked the first case of ‘immigration intelligence’-related charges in the Scandinavian country since the 1970s. Early on Wednesday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it was expelling a Norwegian diplomat in response to Oslo’s move on the previous day. A statement from Khartoum said Sudan hoped “the incident would not harm bilateral ties” between the two countries. Until this week, Norway was one of only a handful of Western countries to maintain relatively normal relations with Sudan. The country has come under repeated criticism by the West over its human rights record. The country’s President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir is among several current and former Sudanese government officials indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. Speaking to Sudanese media on Tuesday, Sudan’s Ambassador to Norway, Onoor Ahmed, denied that the embassy was involved in spying.  “We deny that we have been involved in espionage; what interest would we have in such information?”, he asked. The last time that a Sudanese diplomat was accused of spying on Sudanese expatriates was in 2008 in Germany.

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