Norwegian authorities investigate Palestinian human rights group director

Amira El-Fekki
4 Min Read

Norway-based human rights’ organisation, the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), accused an Arab country of leading a campaign against it. This follows the arrest of and accusations against GNRD President Loay Deeb of money laundering and funding terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“The false claims show that there is an organised campaign against the GNRD led by a state known for flagrant violations of human rights,” the organisation said in a Wednesday statement.

The controversy initially erupted when earlier this week, Norwegian police stormed the GNRD’s office and confiscated documents and computers for 12 hours. They were later released “without any explanation by officials”, GNRD said.

According to an article by the Yemen Economist, Deeb has close ties with a former leader in the Palestinian Fatah movement, who is in turn a close advisor of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin ZayedAl-Nahyan.

Local Norwegian media reported that Deeb is being investigated by the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime for the alleged laundering of over NOK 100m (Norwegian Krone).

State prosecutor Havard Kampen told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) that the money is believed to have been received from sources in the UAE, between one and three years ago, according to different media reports.

GNRD works in partnership with Egyptian NGO Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights. Maat General Director Ayman Okeil revealed in statements to Daily News Egypt Wednesday that the country that the GNRD is accusing of leading a campaign against it is Qatar.

Both Okeil and the GNRD accused the Norwegian police of being complicit in a large political corruption case operated from outside Norway, which the organisation promised to reveal details about, in its statement.

Furthermore, the GNRD claimed the police provided no legal evidence against it. As for claims of supporting terrorist groups, GNRD referred to an international conference that it held in Geneva last February on Terrorism and Human Rights.

GNRD criticised what it described as rumours circulated by Arab media outlets regarding suspicious finances of the organisation and its relationship with any external groups. It accused a Qatari journalist of being the source of the claim, and the country of spreading it through its media networks.

“Mr Deeb has been following updates with legal counsellors, as he was out of the country according to a previously planned agenda which included his participation of in the Tripartite Summit in Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh then to Dubai in the UAE to follow up on GNRD’s office there,” GRND stated.”After that he ordinarily returned to Norway.”

It further condemned the actions of the police, stating it violated all international legal standards, which are constantly promoted by Norway.

“GNRD started legal steps against the government demanding a compensation of NOK 6bn, equal to nearly half a billion US dollars,” the statement read, adding that other supporting organisations plan to do the same with a compensation of at least NOK 2bn.

Last September, BBC reported that Qatari authorities arrested two GNRD researchers for investigating human rights conditions of migrant workers in relation to the country’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup, which has also raised global controversy.

On the other hand, various media reports said that Deeb, who holds a PhD in International Law and is of Palestinian origins, was arrested and questioned over the same charges in May.


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Journalist in DNE's politics section, focusing on human rights, laws and legislations, press freedom, among other local political issues.