'Norwegian of the Year' to be expelled: police
A young asylum seeker who was crowned "Norwegian of the Year" after writing about her life as an illegal immigrant faces expulsion back to Russia after being arrested in Oslo on Monday, police said.
Madina Salamova, who under the pseudonym Maria Amelie wrote an acclaimed book entitled "Illegal Norwegian" about her life undercover, had been living illegally in Norway since her family's final asylum request was denied in 2004.
"She was arrested Monday morning when she came" to an Oslo police station, Norwegian police said in a statement.
"The arrest happened without incident. She will be expelled to Russia as soon as possible," it added.
Salamova, who hails from North Ossetia in the Russian southwest, was awarded the title of "Norwegian of the Year" last month by the magazine Ny Tid (New Time) for having "given a face to the faceless".
The panel in particular praised her for putting her own future in jeopardy in order to give readers an insight into the conditions illegals are facing.
The 25-year-old, who arrived in Norway in 2002, is considered an integration success story: she has completed a Masters degree, although she had to use a fake name and has had to live in hiding.
"Most people think I am Norwegian. I speak Norwegian, I think Norwegian, I dream in Norwegian," she has told media.
She was first arrested on January 12 after speaking at a school. She was freed after a few days but on condition she report to police every day.
Her case has been frontpage news, with thousands protesting to demand she be allowed to stay, and splitting the left-leaning governing coalition.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's Labour Party has refused to make an exception for Salamova, fearing it will open itself up to accusations of weakness from the populist-right anti-immigration Progress Party.
Its Socialist Left Party allies meanwhile have called for Salamova to be allowed to stay, pointing out that there is a shortage of highly qualified academics in the Scandinavian country, which boasts an unemployment rate of only about 3.5 percent.
"We should not reward people who choose to go into hiding and to live illegally for a long time in this country," Stoltenberg insisted to parliament last week, adding "everyone is equal before the law."
Salamova's lawyer insists her safety will be at risk in Russia while media reports have said that her businessman father had received mafia-style threats.
Facing criticism, the government gave Salamova a glimmer of hope last week by announcing plans to allow failed asylum seekers to apply for a work permit as soon as they return to their home country without having to submit to a quarantine period.
© 2011 AFP