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Norway expels Russian diplomat following spy arrest, Moscow calls it ‘unjustified’

Russian Embassy in Oslo (GAD/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Norway has expelled a Russian diplomat linked to the case of a Norwegian national recently arrested on espionage charges.

The Nordic country’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to inform him that the diplomat had been asked to leave because he “performed actions that are not compatible with his role and status as a diplomat,” national broadcaster NRK reported on August 19.

Norway’s PST intelligence agency arrested an Indian-born Norwegian national on August 15 while he was meeting a Russian intelligence officer at a pizza restaurant in the capital, Oslo.

Norwegian authorities did not name the suspect, but broadcaster NRK identified him as 50-year-old Harsharn Singh Tathgar. He was remanded in custody for four weeks on August 17.

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During interrogation, the suspect reportedly admitted to handing over information to and receiving money from the Russian diplomat.

Norway has not named the diplomat in question but stated that he worked in the trade section of the Russian Embassy.

Tathgar worked as a project manager in the oil and gas department of DNV GL, the world’s largest classification society that advises the maritime, oil and gas, and renewable energy industries.

Broadcaster NRK reported that Tathgar specialized in 3D printing, which has applications in the energy, defense, and emergency preparedness sectors.

In a statement, DNV GL said the employee “did not have security clearance and has therefore not worked on projects for the defense industry, the Norwegian Armed Forces or other governmental agencies where security clearance is a prerequisite.”

The Russian Embassy said in a statement on Facebook that it had lodged a complaint with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry for “the violation of diplomatic status.”

The embassy said the PST intelligence service “unjustifiably” detained and searched its deputy trade representative without providing him with consular services.

It also said DNV GL has worked with Russian firms and agencies for many years in oil and gas production, shipbuilding, and infrastructure projects.

“Such cooperation has never raised questions from the Norwegian side,” the embassy said.