Norwegians Stupefied by Secret Surveillance Scandal Featuring U.S.
Norwegians Stupefied by Secret Surveillance Scandal Featuring U.S. – from Sputnik News
During the course of the scandal, Oslo attorney Jon Wessel-Aas claimed that Norwegian governments have for years “knowingly” overstepped both domestic and international law, presumably in the interest of national security.
Following a disturbing report by national broadcaster NRK about a top secret satellite base set up with US support, MPs and ordinary Norwegians alike started demanding answers from the authorities.
The top secret intelligence base had been set up at an old military camp about an hour’s drive from Oslo in 2000, and has been used for years as a listening post to track down terrorists. However it has been also used to pick up Norwegian civilians’ communication, which may have been a violation of the country’s laws, NRK reported.
The base is located on the grounds of the former Eggemoen military camp and was set up with US support, NRK reported, citing top secret documents leaked from the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Despite a substantial price tag of $33 million paid by Norwegian taxpayers, the base’s operations have been kept beyond public scrutiny. Perhaps somewhat ironically, the parliament’s own commission monitoring the process of intelligence gathering (EOS-utvalg), proclaimed itself “uncertain” about the legality of the base’s covert activities.
“We have been uncertain whether the manner in which E-tjenesten [Norway’s military intelligence service] has carried out its assignments has been adequately in line with today’s laws,” Eldbjørg Løwer, former defense minister and incumbent leader of the EOS-utvalg, told NRK, stressing that it was vital to see to that E-tjenesten wasn’t surveilling Norwegians as it “wasn’t their job.”
This uncertainty by the competent bodies has set off alarms at the Norwegian parliament. Parliament Vice President Abid Raja of the Liberal Party, which is a member of the “blue” coalition currently in power, demanded his own government to clarify whether or not the surveillance practices have violated the country’s privacy laws. Raja ventured that this uncertainty was indicative of a “serious situation,” which could undermine public confidence, NRK reported.