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Norway

King Harald orders declassification of secret spy documents

King Harald of Norway has ordered the declassification of secret spy documents. This was made public by the Norwegian government last Sunday and reported by Norwegian media. This is very rare and has only happened a few times in recent history.

It was during the weekly Council of State at the Royal Palace in Oslo on January 10 2020 that graded documents from the Norwegian secret services was ordered by the king to be declassified. Due to King Harald’s illness, it was Crown Prince Haakon who approved this on behalf of his father. This was done to ensure that the documents could be used in an upcoming trial in Oslo District Court.

The South Varanger Garrison is responsible for patrolling and guarding the 198-kilometer border between Norway and Russia. Here, they observe the border that is partially fenced. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Norwegian secret services is accused of trying to recruit spies in the Russian and Norwegian north. A company has sued the Norwegian state because they had major problems in Russia. It is a Norwegian concrete manufacturer that claims at least NOK 136 million in compensation from the government due to damages for losses they believe occurred after unwanted recruitment attempts by the Norwegian Intelligence Service.

It is very unusual for the King to be involved. Government Attorney Fredrik Sejersted says it was necessary to get approval from the King in the Council of State in order to present graded information from the Norwegian secret services in court. According to the Constitution, only the monarch of Norway has the power to declassify secret government documents with such sensitive content.

Former Norwegian spy Frode Berg, who was arrested in Russia in 2017, is one of the witnesses in the upcoming trial. Berg was taken to Lefortovo prison. Following a trial, Berg was convicted as a spy and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was pardoned by Putin in 2019 and later exchanged together with two other Lithuanian spies during a prisoner exchange.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.