The arrest comes after at least seven Russians – including the son of a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin – were detained in recent weeks for flying drones or taking pictures near sensitive areas.
Norway and other European countries are rushing to provide critical infrastructure after the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline was vandalized. In recent months, several drones have been spotted in Norwegian oil and gas fields and at Norwegian airports.
The wave of events has put Norway – and Europe – at risk. The oil and gas sector is the core of the Norwegian economy. Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the country has become a vital supplier to Europe.
Norway is concerned about the arrest of Putin’s trusted son due to drone sightings
Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang The suspect attended a Sept. 29-30 seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania, on countering hybrid threats, First reported Thursday.
The seminar was organized by EU-HYBNET, a European network on hybrid threats – A concept that includes things like sabotage, disinformation, cyber attacks, and other means of warfare outside of traditional state-to-state military conflict.
Paivi Mattila, a professor at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland who coordinates the EU-HYBNET program, confirmed by phone that the suspected spy was present at the event. He said he was not subject to a security clearance but declined to comment further, citing the investigation.
An image shared by Michaelas Romeris University on Twitter shows Giamaria among workshop participants at the event, organized with the Lithuanian Cybercrime Center for Excellence in Education, Research and Training on September 29.
Both the EU-HYBNET website and a brochure for the Vilnius event focal point funding from the EU, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano confirmed the funding, but said EU institutions are not involved in the group’s day-to-day activities.
According to the gathering’s brochure, the “education and training” event aims to help participants understand “vulnerabilities that adversaries may exploit” and “plan for hybrid challenges in a near-future operational environment.”
Participants explored various scenarios, including one of “gas interruption after a gas pipeline explosion.” In that case study, “preliminary findings support the hypothesis that this is likely a case of vandalism and not an accident”—an eerie reflection of the recent Nord Stream pipeline vandalism.
The European Union warned of a strong response to sabotage after the Nord Stream explosions
Norwegian internal security officials announced the arrest of the 37-year-old suspect earlier this week, saying he “poses a threat to fundamental national interests”.
Deputy Chief Hedvig Mo of the Norwegian Police Security Service told Norwegian media that there are concerns that he “has acquired networks and information about Norway’s policies in the northern region”. Even if the information someone obtained did not directly threaten Norway’s security, Russia could exploit it, he said. Authorities did not provide information on when he was arrested.
Details about the case are still emerging. Giamaria was conducting research at the Norwegian Arctic University. As of October 25, he was registered as a researcher at an academic think tank called “Grey Zone.” He is no longer listed on their site.
Before moving to Norway, he lived in Canada and studied at the University of Ottawa and the University of Calgary. While in Ottawa, he volunteered for a political campaign, according to Global News. In 2018, he graduated with a master’s degree from the Center for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
In 2019, he wrote an article for the Canadian Naval Review. The article entitled “Third Base: The Case for CFB Churchill” argues in favor of establishing a naval base in northern Canada.
The case comes months after another Russian “illegal” was arrested in the Netherlands. In that case, a Russian spy claimed to be a Brazilian seeking an internship at the International Criminal Court. He had previously studied in America.
“Illegals” operate without diplomatic cover and develop a cover story over time, often years. In one high-profile case in 2010, the United States arrested 10 Russian agents who had been living in the United States for years while secretly reporting to Moscow’s foreign intelligence agency.