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Norway expels Russian 'intelligence officers' over security concerns

The Russian Embassy in Oslo is pictured on April 23, 2023.
The Russian Embassy in Oslo is pictured on April 23, 2023. Copyright ANNIKA BYRDE/Javad Parsa / NTB
Copyright ANNIKA BYRDE/Javad Parsa / NTB
By Sudesh Baniya
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The Norwegian government declared 15 Russian personnel - who were working under diplomatic cover - personae non gratae on Thursday.

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The Norwegian government has declared "intelligence officers" working at the Russian embassy "personae non gratae," citing increased intelligence threat from Moscow.

Fifteen intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover in the capital Oslo are required to leave Norway shortly, the government said in a statement on Thursday. 

‘The 15 intelligence officers have been engaging in activities that are not compatible with their diplomatic status,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

The statement also declared that visas will not be issued to the intelligence officers seeking to come to Norway.

The move comes after monitoring the officers' activities over time in response to the changed security situation in Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the statement added. 

"Russia currently poses the greatest intelligence threat to Norway. We will not allow Russian intelligence officers to operate under diplomatic cover in Norway,’ Huitfeldt said.

Despite expelling officers and tightening visa rules, Norway still seeks to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Russia, Huitfeldt said in the statement. 

"We want Russia to continue to have a functioning diplomatic mission in Norway, but we will not accept that diplomatic missions are misused for the purposes of carrying out covert intelligence activities," she continued.

Norway had previously expelled three Russian intelligence officers in April 2022 and has intensified the efforts to curtail "undesirable intelligence activities". 

Many European countries have put measures in place, similar to Norway, to limit possible Russian spies gathering sensitive information.

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