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    Anti-immigration Norwegian minister resigns over Iran holiday security fears

    Norway’s rightwing fisheries minister has resigned after breaching security protocol when he went on holiday to Iran with an Iranian-born former beauty queen.
    Per Sandberg, the deputy head of the anti-immigration Progress party, which is part of the ruling coalition, admitted he had travelled to Iran in July with his new girlfriend Bahareh Letnes, 28, without informing the prime minister’s office in advance.
    The 58-year-old Sandberg also admitted taking his work phone with him. Norway’s intelligence agency regularly lists Iran as one of the countries most likely to carry out espionage, alongside China and Russia.
    “Per himself asked to step down and I think it was the right decision,” said the Conservative prime minister, Erna Solberg. “He didn’t show the necessary common sense when it comes to handling security issues.”
    The story has been making headlines in Norway, fuelling criticism from members of the opposition and Sandberg’s own party, which is in a coalition with the Conservatives and the Liberals.
    Letnes’s asylum request was rejected three times in Norway and she was expelled, but she eventually obtained a residency permit on the grounds that she risked being subjected to a forced marriage in Iran.
    The Progress party favours a strict immigration policy, calling for asylum seekers whose applications are rejected to be expelled swiftly. It is also highly critical of foreigners who return to their native country after receiving asylum in Norway.
    Sandberg originally issued an apology in an attempt to quell the criticism, but with new details emerging daily, he ultimately decided to resign. Among other things, it emerged he had also broken security protocol in May when he took his work phone to China.
    “It’s sad,” he told reporters. “I had hoped to finish up a few projects.”
    Norwegian intelligence services have opened an investigation into Letnes, who denies any ties to the Iranian regime.
    Sandberg will be replaced as fisheries minister by Harald Tom Nesvik, another Progress politician. Sandberg has also stepped down as deputy head of Progress.

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