16:37 GMT21 September 2020
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    Earlier on Wednesday, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had moved to expel a Russian diplomat from the country in connection with an espionage scandal.

    Moscow has lodged a protest with Oslo over the detention of a Russian deputy trade representative in Norway.

    “During a meeting with a Norwegian citizen on 15 August, 2020, the [Russian] deputy trade representative was unjustifiably detained by Norwegian police. They searched him and did not provide an opportunity for him to contact the embassy or summon a consular officer to the scene of the incident. We have voiced a protest to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry in connection with the violation of the status of a diplomat”, the Russian Embassy said in a comment posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page.

    The embassy also underscored that "Russia will, of course, draw its own conclusions" from the incident. 

    The statement comes after the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said earlier in the day that it had decided to expel a Russian diplomat from Norway in connection with the espionage scandal and that the person is due to leave the country by the end of the week.

    The NRK news outlet cited the head of the communications department at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Trude Maaseide, as saying that the move was made because "the Russian diplomat [whose name was not revealed] met with a Norwegian spy". 

    At the same time, she pointed out that Norway actively cooperates with Russia in a number of industries and that this collaboration is still in force. Oslo "does not want this expulsion to affect the overall development of its relations with Moscow", Maaseide stressed.

    Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, for her part, told NRK on Tuesday that a more thorough investigation was needed before the government could officially respond to the arrest of an Oslo resident accused of meeting with a person described as a “Russian intelligence officer”.

    “In order to discuss what this will have for our relations with Russia, I think we need to wait […]. I was informed about the arrest, since these events may affect our relations with other countries. Of course, the prime minister and the diplomatic department were informed”, she added. 

    She spoke after Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) revealed on Monday that they had detained a man who was “formally suspected of providing information to a foreign country that could damage fundamental national interests”.

    The country in question was later confirmed to be Russia, with a PST official claiming that a citizen in his 50s had been accused of meeting on multiple occasions with an officer said to be from a “Russian intelligence agency”.

    The suspected man, who was arrested in Oslo last Saturday, could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of disclosing state secrets and espionage. He has been taken into custody while the investigation is underway, and has reportedly refused to admit any guilt. 

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    protest, relations, diplomat, expulsion, Russian Foreign Ministry, Norway, Russia
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