Norway expels 15 Russian diplomats suspected of spying

COPENHAGEN (AP): Norway’s government said Thursday that it was expelling 15 Russian diplomats from the country, saying they were suspected of spying while working at the Russian Embassy in Oslo.

Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said the move was “an important measure to counter and reduce the scope of Russian intelligence activities in Norway, and thereby secure our national interests.”

The Russians declared persona non grata “must leave Norway within a short time,”.Huitfeldt said, adding: “We will not grant visas to intelligence officers who apply for a visa to Norway.”

Norway’s government said the activities of the expelled diplomats were “incompatible with their diplomatic status.”

The foreign minister stressed that Oslo wants “normal diplomatic relations with Russia, and that Russian diplomats are welcome in Norway.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would respond in kind to Norway’s action, Russia’s Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies reported.

A year ago, Norway expelled three Russian diplomats it identified as intelligence officers.

A man whom the Norwegian Police Security Service alleged used a false name and identity while actually working for one of Russia’s intelligence services also was arrested last year.