A 25-year-old Malaysian citizen has been arrested with espionage for allegedly engaging in signals intelligence activities in Norway, including wiretapping. The individual denies the allegations, reports NRK.
The arrest took place on Friday evening, conducted 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 activities.
According to the authorities, evidence suggests that the suspect’s rental car was recorded on surveillance cameras at the same time as signal assessments were conducted near significant 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 they are in the early stages of a comprehensive investigation aimed at gathering evidence.
The suspect, who is a student not enrolled in a Norwegian educational institution, has only been in Norway for a brief period. He was arrested on September 8th and subsequently detained for four weeks, with the first two weeks in isolation.
The police have confiscated various data-carrying devices and electronic items from the suspect, which will undergo further investigation. 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 individuals who collect or possess secret information that may harm fundamental national interests.
The authorities suspect that there may be more individuals involved in the case, given the complexity and scale 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 evidence tampering, the police are cautious in revealing further details about the ongoing investigation.
The suspect declined to provide any statements to PST, with his defense attorney, Aase Karin Sigmond, explaining that he was in poor condition following what she described as a “dramatic” arrest.
Both Sigmond and Blom have refrained from providing additional 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 posing a significant intelligence threat to Norway.
Signals intelligence, which the suspect is believed to have worked on, involves intercepting various forms of communication, such as radio transmissions, mobile phone calls, or text messages. Eavesdropping on such communications for intelligence purposes is typically illegal, requiring specialized equipment and decryption capabilities, which often demand substantial resources and expertise.
The National Security Authority (NSM) is assisting PST in the case but has refrained from disclosing further information to protect the ongoing investigation.