‘Persona non grata’: Norway expels & bans Russian diplomat after local man he allegedly met is arrested for ‘espionage’

Authorities in Norway have ordered a Russian diplomat to leave the country, claiming he paid a Norwegian – suspected of engaging in espionage – for information. The local man has been arrested and faces 15 years in jail.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Wednesday that it had informed the Russian ambassador that an employee at the country’s embassy in Oslo was no longer welcome in the state, the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) reported. The ministry claimed that the Russian had engaged in activities that were “not compatible” with his status as a diplomat. 

The person involved was not named, but Oslo has specified that he worked in the trade department of the embassy. 

According to NTB, the Russian embassy was informed about the expulsion of its employee on Tuesday afternoon. The diplomat has been given 72 hours to leave the country and is now considered “persona non grata” in Norway – which means that he will not be able to return to the territory of the kingdom.

The move comes after local law enforcement claimed that a Norwegian man had illegally provided information to a Russian intelligence officer. 

The employee of DNV GL – a company involved in conducting certification of subsea pipelines, according to local media reports – was arrested for espionage. Russia is currently trying to complete the Nord Stream 2 project, linking its gas supplies directly to Germany. 

The Dagbladet newspaper claims the Norwegian met with the alleged Russian intelligence officer, who “has diplomatic immunity,” at a restaurant in Oslo last weekend. A court in Oslo said on Monday that the man, in his 50s, has admitted taking money from a Russian official. He now faces up to 15 years in prison. 

DNV GL said the arrested Norwegian did not work on projects for the defense industry, the Norwegian military or other government agencies. Instead, at the time of his arrest, he was in charge of a joint industry project working on 3D printing.

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