Russian intelligence agent reportedly arrested in Norway
Before going to Norway, Mikhail Mikushin, who went by the name José Assis Giammaria, had studied at the Center for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
With the arrest of an individual posing as a Brazilian researcher, the Norwegian Counterintelligence Services (PST) may have gotten their hands on a big Russian intelligence fish, a rare catch in the context of strong tensions between Moscow and the West.
Admitted in the fall of 2021 as a lecturer at the Norwegian University of Tromsø, in the strategic region of Norway. #x27;Arctic, the individual was arrested by police on Monday and jailed for violating immigration laws, pending deportation.
The Norwegian services believe that it is actually a Russian acting on behalf of Russian intelligence. An investigation was opened for illegal espionage directed against State secrets likely to harm the fundamental interests of the nation, facts punishable by three years in prison.
Friday , the PST identified the suspect as Mikhail Mikushin, a Russian born in 1978, while the suspect, who has a Brazilian passport, presents himself as a 37-year-old Brazilian by the name of José Assis Giammaria.< /p>
Behind the name Mikhail Mikushin is a Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer, according to a researcher from the Bellingcat investigative site.
Good job, Norway. You grabbed a colonel from the GRU, tweeted Christo Grozev, based on his registered residence in the academy of this service.
From the attempted poisoning in Salisbury (UK) of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal to the hacking of the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in La Hague, GRU agents have been implicated in several high-profile cases in recent years.
According to the PST, Mikhail Mikushin is an illegal agent, that is to say a spy who tries to blend in permanently in a foreign country to weave a network of contacts there, set up information channels and entering circles with sensitive information.
He was arrested as part of a collaboration with other security services. intelligence.
Following such agents is extremely complex and rare. This was the case of Anna Chapman, a Russian businesswoman based in New York, arrested with nine other agents in 2010.
The man implicated in Norway rejects the charges against him, but accepted his remand in a simplified procedure on Friday.
A court d'Oslo ordered the same day that he be placed behind bars for four weeks, the first two in total solitary confinement to prevent the disappearance of evidence.
Au Within the University of Tromsø, the researcher worked on Norwegian policy in the High North – where Norway shares 198 km of border with Russia – and on hybrid threats, according to counterintelligence.
The mere fact of getting into circles of researchers who are suppliers to the authorities for the definition of their policy is of real national interest, argued an official of the PST, Thomas Blom, at a press conference on Friday.
Norwegian media published photos of the suspect showing a large build with a shaved head.< /p>
Before coming to Norway, he had studied at the Center for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
Amid acute tensions with the West in reason of the war in Ukraine, the Russian Embassy in Norway has for its part denounced the espionage which it believes is going on in the Scandinavian country.
In a email to AFP on Wednesday, she said she did not know who or what it was.
Became Europe's largest gas supplier since the reduction of Russian deliveries, Norway has increased its vigilance and security around its strategic installations, in particular energy.
In recent weeks, the Norwegian police have arrested nearly ;a dozen Russian citizens accused of having flown drones over the territory, in violation of a ban decreed because of the war in Ukraine, or of having violated nt bans on taking photos on sensitive sites.