Open Letter to the UK Government
by Reidar Visser
“To us, freedom means everything, and without it life has no meaning.”
Those words were uttered by an historical figure vastly more important than me – King Haakon VII of Norway who made this point during a speech to Norwegian troops after his arrival in London in 1940 after having fled the Nazi occupation of Norway. But they apply with equal force to my situation and my reasons for coming to your shores today.
My country is once more under occupation by people with totalitarian political inclinations. They are officers in the organised crime unit of the Oslo police who have managed to instil servility in the Labour-led government, giving them unlimited powers to pursue extra-judicially any person they elect to put on their hit lists of disliked persons, entirely without reference to any judicial process. They have lately been wreaking havoc in a number of Western countries as part of their more than two years long illegal, medieval-inspired witch hunt of me for my perfectly legal photography. During the past year, the operation has also involved Mengele style torture techniques; lately the effect of this treatment has been such that I fear my general health is coming under serious threat.
I have in previous appeals tried to underline the structural reasons whereby a seemingly well-functioning democracy like Norway can submit to horrible police-state tendencies of this kind. They include the exceptional unprofessionalism of the Norwegian prosecution service, the absence of legal protection for sexual minorities that are not defined in gender terms, as well as the close ties between high officials in the Labour party and leading officers in the Oslo police. A deeper structural cause relates to the transformation of Norway to a state with certain rentenist characters, making it similar to states like Qatar in terms of the potential for extreme and irresponsible spending by incompetent elements of the state bureaucracy, who often get free hands to pursue their own private fanaticisms and personal vendettas.
It is my fear that Norwegian police will try to replicate this operation in the UK and I would like to encourage you to refrain from approving the barbaric methods they propose to use.
Beyond the obvious human rights argument against this kind of operation, I have also described how the police’s actions would appear irrational even from a more narrow and cynical police perspective. Whereas expulsion from an area or a country is a recognised aim of disruption as a police method, a global persecution without any clear aim that goes on for more than two years means wasting both resources and the reputation of the police as time passes by without any convincing results. The catastrophic consequences of failed priorities like these became painfully obvious in Norway during 2011, when it emerged that the police officers who had spent time harassing me extra-judicially in exotic locations overseas had failed to pay attention to Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist who killed almost 100 people in an attack on 22 July 2011.
It goes without saying that antics like these are entirely unsuitable to a complex and sophisticated society like yours. There are also additional reasons that make me think your government will have special reasons to reject this kind of operation. The UK is the historical home of transparent policing and the great innovation of badged officers. I give you credit for the fact that even today, in the complicated area of the fight against organised crime, you continue to use uniformed police to a greater extent than many other nations, thus addressing the acute need for greater accountability in this area of policing.
Also, you have at your disposal a tool which is designed to create the layer of public vigilantism that police elsewhere have tried to recreate through more totalitarian means: The sex offender register. If you are worried about me, please feel free to inscribe me in your rolls based on the remarkable accusations put forward by Norwegian authorities:
“This man is suspected of having engaged in (perfectly legal) photography in pursuit of his sadomasochist desires. Because he took a number of pictures of people wearing winter clothes such as fur hats and Sorel boots for an alleged project on fashion history, Norwegian police has theorized that he may have some kind of fetish related to Nike shoes. He has never photographed the same person on more than one occasion, let alone touched anyone against their will. But you never know with these types.”
This is neither eloquent nor impeccably logical, but it aptly summarises the Oslo police’s accusations and claims about me in a few sentences. I have moreover suggested a series of other voluntary restrictions on my movements to help alleviate any fear that I might reengage in controversial photography; this offer still stands. But in a rule of law society, you cannot treat a controversial photographer worse than people that have raped and murdered.
Here are some more ideas to discourage you from taking part in this operation. The challenges your police is facing are in many ways more complex than other European nations. You have in your population serious challenges relating to political extremism, whether left or right, Christian or Islamic. And yet at the same time you have perhaps the greatest concentration on the planet of brilliant thinkers with minority backgrounds, ranging from Muslims to members of the kink community. You cannot afford to get in conflict with these whole communities by pursuing the primitive thought police methods of the Norwegian authorities, which in my case means persecuting someone for their sexual orientation in the absence of any criminal act.
Finally you have in your country a more lively debate about the police and police monitoring mechanisms than elsewhere. I come to that debate with a perfectly open mind. By simply refraining from harassing me extra-judicially, you can count on me as someone who will give credit where it is due and uphold the presumption of innocence for the police in the same way that I expect the police to uphold that principle with regard to myself.
Are really your relations with Norway sufficiently important to get your government implicated in a crime against humanity? Is it worth putting your reputation on the line just for the sake of satisfying the Norwegian Labour-government’s narrow-minded quest to destroy extra-judicially one of the world’s most prominent Iraq academics? With the robustness of your press and its well-known thirst for scandal, it would be only a matter of time before this case reached the point where the full truth came out.
I come to your country, the historical bastion of European freedom, with the sole aim of writing academically on the results of the Iraqi local elections on 20 April. I have already been fighting this police operation on the beaches and in the air, and will continue to do so wherever the struggle takes me. I hope you, like the great Winston Churchill, will understand the serious nature of the challenge presented by fascism from other parts of Europe, and will take the necessary measures to once more shine as a beacon of liberty in our part of the world.