Suspected Russian spy arrested in Norway

Norway's counter-espionage service PST said on Tuesday it had arrested a suspected Russian spy masquerading as a Brazilian academic.

Pictured is Tromsø.
Norway on Tuesday arrested a suspected Russian spy in the northern city of Tromsø. Pictured is Tromsø. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

The suspect was detained on Monday morning as he was making his way to his job at Tromso university, in northern Norway, public broadcaster NRK said.

“We think he’s working undercover for the Russian authorities,” PST deputy director Hedvig Moe told broadcaster TV2.

“An undercover agent is someone who gathers information, most often for his or her country of origin — in this case Russia and the Russian intelligence services,” she said.

The PST, which said it had been coordinating with intelligence services from allied nations, wants the suspect expelled from Norway. In the meantime, he has been slapped with a four-week detention order.

The alleged spy worked at Tromso university on Norway’s Arctic policy and “hybrid” threats, the PST said.

The latest affair follows a rash of arrests of Russian citizens accused of flying drones over Norwegian territory in violation of a ban imposed in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Other Russians have been detained in Norway on charges of illegally photographing sensitive sites. Norway is a member of the NATO military alliance.

In the Arctic Circle, it shares a 198-kilometre (123-mile) border with Russia, which it has displaced as Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.

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Norway moves to ban motorcycle club linked to violent crime

Norwegian police have moved to ban the Satudarah Motorcycle Club as the authorities believe the organisation has a predisposition to serious crime.

Norway moves to ban motorcycle club linked to violent crime

Internationally, the club is often connected to drug dealing and organised crime. Authorities in Norway believe the perpetrators of a recent stabbing in Lillestrøm and a shooting in Oslo could be connected to the Satudarah MC (SMC).

The police now want to take Satudarah to court and ban them completely.

“We believe that the main purpose of Satudarah in Norway is to engage in crime,” Anders Rasch-Olsen, the head of the Special Operations Section (SO) in the Oslo Police District, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

In 2021, a new law was introduced that allows courts to ban criminal gangs. The Satudarah motorcycle club is the first organisation that the authorities want to use the law against.

“We now want to test this law for the first time. We believe it is the right tool for us to prevent expansion, further participation and recruitment into certain gangs,” Rasch-Olsen said.

Taking the case to court

State prosecutor Ingelin Hauge wants to take the case to court.

“We believe it’s a criminal gang,” she told NRK.

However, for it to be a criminal offence to participate in Satudarah activities, the association must first be banned. 

Lawyer Usama Ahmad has been asked to represent the club. Ahmad is the lawyer of a 38-year-old man who the police believe is the leader of the Satudarah MC in Oslo.

“He disagrees with the claims and believes this association is not illegal. He, therefore, wants to present counterevidence in court against a possible ban,” Ahmad said.

“We believe that the information the prosecutor’s office relies on is not corrected and up-to-date. He believes the association’s purpose is not linked to crime,” Ahmad added.

If the court decides to implement a ban, it will become illegal for the MC club to carry out its activities and recruit new members.

Fighting organised crime

The Special Operations Section in the Oslo police works on fighting organised crime in the capital. Together with other departments, they have led the investigation of the MC club in Norway.

In collaboration with several police districts, they have mapped members and supporters in the Oslo area and the crime they believe they have committed.

“Drug crime, violent crime, extortion and kidnapping. Things that create fear in society,” Rasch-Olsen noted.

According to media reports, the Satudarah organisation in Oslo consists of a core of 12 people.

In the Oslo police’s report “Trends in crime 2018-2021”, the police stated that the MC club was more characterised by crime, violence and the use of firearms than by motorcycle riding.

“We can safely say that the majority in the Oslo chapter has not shown any particular interest in motorcycles,” Rasch-Olsen said.