Per Sandberg (Progress Party) brought his work phone along on a holiday in Iran together with his Norwegian-Iranian girlfriend.
The Norwegian Minister of Fisheries Per Sandberg is facing heavy criticism after he went on a holiday to Iran with his girlfriend Bahareh Letnes – both from members of his own party and the opposition.
According to Norwegian PM Erna Solberg, Sandberg did not comply with safety regulations when he brought his work phone to Iran. According to the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), Iran is considered a “high risk country” together with China and Russia, known for extensive electronic surveillance.
Sandberg also brought his work phone to China in May, according to Dagens Næringsliv.
“Of course I have made a mistake”
Sandberg also breached internal regulations of The Office of the Prime Minister, when he reported about the trip two days after he arrived in Iran. Every minister should report before going to another country.
Despite the violations, Erna Solberg has twice spoken out that she has full confidence in Per Sandberg.
“Of course I have made a mistake. I should have told about the trip in advance, and I should not have brought the work phone to Iran. It is always important to follow safety regulations, and I did not follow the routines. I have learned from this,” Sandberg wrote in an e-mail to Norwegian newspaper VG.
Sandberg had to deliver his phone to the PST after arriving in Norway after the holiday.
Calling for resignation
Kjell Grandhagen, former head of Norwegian Military Intelligence Service, believes Sandberg´s phone was hacked in Iran.
“Iran is one out of three countries that is considered a security threat, both by the PST and the Norwegian Intelligence Service. Iran is a “troublemaker” in the Middle East. I believe his phone is hacked,” Grandhagen said, and called for Sandberg to consider resigning, according to NRK.
“Received death threats”
Bahareh Letnes said she received death threats after the trip with Sandberg to Iran. Letnes applied for political asylum in Norway in 2008, after fear of being forced married in Iran. Letnes and Sandberg celebrated the Persian new year together at the Iranian embassy in March. Letnes has several times denied she has any relation to the Iranian embassy, writes Aftenposten.
Letnes is behind the sole proprietorship B&H General Trading Company Bahareh Letnes, which according to the Brønnøysund Register Centre, is engaged in exporting of fish.
Sandberg has earlier said he has no relationship to this company.