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Norwegian journalists expose possible use of wiretapping equipment near Russian embassy

January 06, 2015, 19:11 UTC+3 OSLO

Along with the Russian and French embassies, diplomatic missions of Great Britain, Venezuela and Finland are located in Skillebekk

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Russian embassy

Russian embassy

© ITAR-TASS / EPA / heiko junge

OSLO, January 6. /TASS/. A fake cell-phone transmitter station might have been operating in Oslo’s Skillebekk, a neighbourhood where Russian and French embassies are located, up till December 2014, according to the Aftenposten newspaper. The station might have been used to wiretap mobile phone calls and trace their users.

Along with the Russian and French embassies, diplomatic missions of Great Britain, Venezuela and Finland are located in Skillebekk.

The newspaper hired telecommunications security experts in the autumn of 2014 to spot possible locations of wiretapping equipment in central Oslo. Using specialized equipment, Norwegian reporters spotted numerous signs signaling the presence of IMSI catchers /telephony eavesdropping device used for intercepting mobile phone traffic and tracking movement of mobile phone users/ in the direct vicinity of the country’s parliament, the prime minister’s office and personal residence, embassies of the United States and Israel, the building of the country’s Central Bank, and near offices of a number of big legal firms and financial institutions in Oslo’s Aker Brygge district.

Norway’s Police Security Service has launched an official investigation. Martin Bernsen, a spokesman for the Service, told TASS the investigation that had been started before Christmas was to ascertain if such fake mobile phone stations had really been operated in Oslo. He said police would scrutinize the Aftenposten’s report too. “So far, it is too early to say what it really was,” he said.

Officers of the Russian embassy said they had learnt about possible presence of IMSI catchers in proximity to the embassy’s building from Afterposten journalists. They said they had taken this information “with big interest” and noted that it was a top priority liability of the Norwegian authorities to ensure security of the city’s telecommunications infrastructure.

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