No retrial in Norway spy case: commission

9th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A former Norwegian diplomat, convicted of spying for Russia during the Cold War, will not be retried, a judicial review commission ruled Thursday, dismissing new evidence presented by his defence.

Nearly 26 years after Arne Treholt was jailed for spying for the then Soviet Union and Iraqi intelligence, Norway's Criminal Cases Review Commission dismissed doubts his lawyers had sought to cast on evidence and witness testimony against him.

The commission concluded "there is no proof that the evidence was fabricated or that false testimony was given, as claimed", its president Helen Saeter told journalists.

The commission decided to re-examine the case after the publication last September of a book called "Forfalskningen" (Counterfeit) in which two journalists claimed that Norwegian police fabricated evidence against Treholt.

The book's publication was followed by testimonies in the press casting further doubts on the reliability of the case against the diplomat.

Treholt, then a top official at the Norwegian foreign ministry's press department, was arrested at Oslo airport in 1984 as he boarded a plane to Vienna to meet a Soviet agent.

He was sentenced in 1985 to 20 years in jail for high treason and spying. He was pardoned in 1992 for medical reasons.

After questioning 29 witnesses and consulting British, Danish and Swedish experts, the review commission said there were no grounds to have a new trial.

Norwegian authorities said they hoped the decision will finally put an end to the controversial affair.

"The commission is very wrong if it thinks that this type of nonsense will close my case," the NTB news agency quoted 68-year-old Treholt as saying.

The affair is regarded as the biggest spying case in Norway's contemporary history.

Treholt has admitted to having supplied foreign powers with documents, which he said were unimportant, in exchange for money, but has always maintained he was not a spy.

After his release, he lived first in Russia then in Cyprus.

Three earlier bids to reopen the case were also rejected.

© 2011 AFP

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