13 Apr 2023 13:43

Oslo expelling 15 employees of Russian embassy - Norwegian Foreign Ministry

BRUSSELS. April 13 (Interfax) - The Norwegian Foreign Ministry declared 15 employees of the Russian embassy personae non gratae on Thursday on suspicion of espionage, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said.

"The government has now decided to declare as personae non gratae 15 Russian intelligence officers who have been working under diplomatic cover in Norway. The officers concerned must leave Norway shortly," the ministry said.

"Visas will not be issued to intelligence officers seeking to come to Norway," it said.

In Oslo's opinion, "the 15 intelligence officers have been engaging in activities that are not compatible with their diplomatic status" and have been ordered to leave Norway for that reason, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said.

"This is an important step in countering, and reducing the level of, Russian intelligence activity in Norway, and thus in safeguarding our national interests," the statement quoted Huitfeldt as saying.

At the same time, "Norway is seeking to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Russia, and Russian diplomats are welcome in Norway," she said.

"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," Huitfeldt said.

In April 2022, the Norwegian authorities declared three diplomats from the Russian embassy in Oslo personae non gratae. Huitfeldt said back then that, in Oslo's opinion, they "were engaged in activities incompatible with their diplomatic status."