Norway's 'greatest spy case' to be re-examined

24th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The case of former Norwegian diplomat Arne Treholt, who was sentenced during the Cold War in "Norway's greatest spy case" will be re-opened, a Norwegian judiciary authority said Friday.

The Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission decided to re-open Treholt's case after the publication of book called "Forfalskningen" (Counterfeit) in which two journalists charged Norwegian police fabricated evidence against Treholt.

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

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

He was sentenced in 1985 to 20 years in jail for high treason and spying for the USSR and Iraqi intelligence. He was pardonned in 1992.

"It is an important first step in the right direction", said Treholt, 67, at press conference in Oslo following the decision.

Treholt has admitted to have supplied foreign powers with documents, which he said were without importance, in exchange for money, but has always maintained he was not a spy.

When Treholt got out of prison, he went on to live in Russia and Cyprus.

The Treholt affair is widely considered the "greatest spy case" of Norway's contemporary history.

Chief prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch asked the commission earlier this week to re-examine the case.

It will determine if the new elements published in the book and in the press warrant holding a re-trial.

"If there is any substance to the new allegations, it implies that doubt can be casted on at least part of the basis for Arne Treholt's conviction," commission president Helen Saeter told reporters.

"These are extremely serious accusations that have to be examined and clarified as much for the sake of the accused as for the rule of law in Norway," she added.

© 2010 AFP

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