Suspected Russian spy arrested by Norway attended conference on hybrid warfare

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BRUSSELS – The suspected Russian spy arrested in Norway this week attended a seminar on hybrid threats recently that included a scenario for responding to a pipeline explosion, according to Norwegian media, a coordinator for the group that hosted the event , and a photograph of the event. .

Norwegian security officials this week announced that they have arrested a man claiming to be a Brazilian academic conducting research on Arctic issues in the city of Tromso who they believe is, in fact, a ” illegal” Russian. He was identified in the reports as José Assis Giammaria.

The arrest comes after at least seven Russians – including the son of a close associate of President Vladimir Putin – have been arrested in recent weeks for flying drones or taking pictures near sensitive areas.

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Norway and other countries in Europe are rushing to secure critical infrastructure after the sabotage of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline. In recent months, there have been numerous sightings of drones in Norway’s offshore oil and gas fields and at Norwegian airports.

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The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang first report Thursday that the suspect attended the September 29-30 seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania, to counter hybrid threats.

The seminar was hosted by EU-HYBNET, a European network on hybrid threats, which include sabotage, disinformation, cyberattacks and other means of combat outside of traditional state-to-state military conflict. The organization’s website and a conference brochure say the group is funded by the European Commission. A spokesman for the commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Paivi Mattila, a professor at Finland’s Laurea University of Applied Sciences who coordinates the EU-HYBNET program, confirmed by phone that the suspected spy attended the event. She said she did not go through a security check, but declined to comment further, citing the investigation.

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An image shared on Twitter by Mykolas Romeris University, shows Giammaria sitting among the workshop participants at the event organized with the Lithuanian Cybercrime Center of Excellence for Training, Research and Education on September 29.

A brochure for the seminar in Vilnius says that the participants of the event will examine various scenarios, including a case of “stoppage of gas flow after a gas pipeline explosion”. In the case study, “initial results support the assumption that it is probably a sabotage and not an accident.”

The EU warns of a “robust” response against sabotage after the Nord Stream explosions

Information on the suspect is still emerging. Norwegian domestic security officials announced the arrest this week, saying the suspect posed “a threat to fundamental national interests.”

There is concern that “he may have acquired a network and information about Norwegian politics in the northern area,” Deputy Chief Hedvig Moe of the Norwegian Police Security Service told Norwegian media. Even if the information the person acquired does not directly compromise Norway’s security, it could be misused by Russia, he said.

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From October 21 Giammaria was listed as a researcher in the Norwegian think tank “The Gray Zone” at the Arctic University of Norway. It is no longer listed on their site.”

Before moving to Norway, the suspect lived in Canada, where he attended the University of Ottawa and the University of Calgary. While in Ottawa, he volunteered to canvass for a local political campaign, according to Global News.

In 2019, he wrote an article for the Canadian Naval Review. The article, titled “Third Base: The Case for CFB Churchill,” argues in favor of establishing a naval base in northern Canada.

The case comes months after another suspected “illegal” Russian was arrested in the Netherlands. In this case, a suspected Russian spy claimed to be a Brazilian seeking an internship at the International Criminal Court. He had previously studied in the United States.

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