OSLO: The head of Norway’s intelligence service (PST) – widely criticised after the July 22 attacks last year – has resigned after hinting the country has agents in Pakistan, the justice ministry announced on Thursday.
Her remarks had led the Pakistani foreign ministry to summon Norway’s ambassador in Islamabad on Thursday, Norwegian paper of reference Aftenposten reported on its website.
“PST chief Janne Kristiansen has informed me that she is resigning from her post effective immediately,” Justice Minister Grete Faremo told reporters.
“The reason is that a possible breach of her duty to maintain confidentiality has been observed through the revelation of classified information,” she added, describing the facts of the case as “extremely serious.”
The minister was referring to Kristiansen’s appearance on Wednesday before a parliamentary committee during which she revealed that Norway’s military intelligence, the E Service, had agents in Pakistan.
The E Service “would have to answer themselves (but) they are represented in countries that you have in mind,” she said in answer to a question from a parliamentarian on Norway’s contacts with Pakistan.
Her comments come as Western powers, led by the United States, have expressed suspicions about the Pakistani services clandestinely supporting the Taliban. On Thursday, the Pakistani foreign ministry summoned the Norwegian ambassador requesting more information, Aftenposten reported.
“It is natural that we have contact with Pakistani authorities,” Norwegian foreign ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen told AFP, refusing to confirm the summoning.
Additional contact with Pakistani officials could also take place in Oslo during the day, he said.
A special unit of the Norwegian police has launched an investigation to determine if Kristiansen’s comments breached her duty to maintain confidentiality, unit chief Jan Egil Presthus told AFP.
Kristiansen had been criticised for her comments defending the PST’s failure to detect and stop Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to the July 22 twin attacks that killed a total of 77 people, many of them teens.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2012.
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