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Malaysian Suspected of Spying in Norway Recruited by Foreigner in Australia, Says Diplomat Source

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PETALING JAYA – A Malaysian arrested in Norway for alleged espionage was recruited by a foreigner while studying in Australia. 

A Kuala Lumpur-based diplomat source said he was approached by a foreign intelligence agent operating Down Under.

“He was befriended by a ‘consultant’ from a foreign country who operated in Australia. The person gave financial assistance to the Malaysian.

“The consultant was on the radar of Australian intelligence. They informed their Norwegian counterparts that the consultant and the Malaysian were travelling together to Norway,” said the embassy source.

The source said the 25-year-old student from Kuala Lumpur came from a low-income family and was pursuing a Diploma in Business Studies at a college in Melbourne.

“The student informed his parents that he was getting financial assistance from the consultant, and they were not suspicious at all that a foreigner had recruited their son,” he added.

The Star visited the Malaysian student’s wooden house in a low-cost housing area known as rumah panjang (longhouse) in Kuala Lumpur.

A neighbour said the parents were at work and confirmed that their son studied in Australia.

However, the neighbour said she did not know the student was arrested in Norway.

On Sept 12, Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its embassy in Stockholm, confirmed that a man believed to be a Malaysian citizen had been arrested in Oslo, and was believed to have been involved in espionage activities.

In a statement, the ministry said its embassy was in close contact with the local authorities in Oslo to get more information on this case.

The source said Norway did not reveal to the Malaysian government which country the intelligence agent was from.

“However, they wanted to send the message to Malaysia that Malaysians of certain ethnicities were the target of recruitment by an intelligence agency,” he said.

The source said the identity of the intelligence agent was not revealed as investigations were still ongoing.

According to a report by Norwegian Broadcasting on Sept 10, Norway’s police intelligence agency PST charged the Malaysian with spying on the Office of the Prime Minister, the Defence Ministry and other government offices in Oslo.

The Malaysian allegedly drove around or parked near these offices in a rental car and tried to tap into their electronic communications.

The PST said the Malaysian was arrested on the night of Sept 8 after his rental car’s movements were picked up by surveillance cameras mounted outside the government offices he was believed to have targeted.

However, Norwegian investigators have since said the man is no longer suspected of spying but may have been involved in economic crime.

According to the PST, the man is believed to have been engaged in wide-reaching fraud with ties to organised crime, possibly with international connections.

In its previous assessments, the PST had singled out neighbouring Russia, China and North Korea as state actors that pose a significant intelligence threat to Norway. 

Source: The Straits Times

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