In December it became known that the Norwegian police planned on spending up to NOK 100 million on drones from the Chinese company DJI, which is based in Shenzhen. But Norway’s liberal-conservative political party, the Conservatives (Høyre) are concerned about the Norwegian police using these drones and are now asking the government to stop the bidding process. The director of police is called in for a meeting with the Minister of Justice, NRK reports.
The Conservative Party’s justice policy spokesman Sveinung Stensland says to NRK that it seems that the Norwegian police are in the process of buying drones that the US authorities will no longer use. “That should let the alarm bells go off. We can not have Chinese drones in Norwegian police patrols if this is a security risk,” he says.
Sveinung Stensland points out that this is not the first time that there have been reactions to the use of DJI drones. They are not banned in the United States, but in December US authorities imposed sanctions on the drone company because their drones were used in the surveillance of Chinese Uighurs, according to the BBC.
The Conservatives’ demand follows a letter that was sent to the members of the Justice Committee in the Norwegian parliament from the Uighur Committee, the Hong Kong Committee, and the Tibet Committee. The letter from the human rights organizations has also been sent to the police and the Ministry of Justice.
The organizations stated in the email that accompanied the letter to the members of the Justice Committee, “We have with concern registered that the police are in the process of purchasing drones of the brand DJI. We believe that such a purchase would be contrary to Norwegian security policy interests.”
Sveinung Stensland now requests that the Norwegian Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl stop the tender process until all relevant issues related to the possible security risk have been clarified.
“The fact that the drones are Chinese is not a problem in itself. The problem is if the supplier is blacklisted by authorities that are allied with Norway. This is what we have become aware of now, and which makes us ask questions,” Stensland says.
Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl has now summoned Police Director Benedicte Bjørnland to an urgent meeting on the case where he is asking for an account of this procurement. “I have also asked for verification of the information contained in the report of concern. I expect the police to make a new assessment of the security risk if it is necessary in light of new information,” the Minister of Justice says to NRK.