The Icelandic government kicked FBI agents out of the country for investigating operations of whistleblowing website Wikileaks, a spokesman for the group has said.
Speaking with Icelandic news program Kastljós last Wednesday, Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said the agents came into the country on a private plane through Reykjavik airport.
“News of the visit reached Home Secretary Ögmundur Jónasson who reacted sharply, as it was unbelievably presumptuous to come to Iceland that way,” Hrafnsson said. “According to my sources, Jónasson demanded that the FBI agents pack their bags, get back onboard, and leave the country.
“The matter was then brought before the cabinet and a formal protest was issued to U.S. authorities.”
Jónasson later confirmed with Morgunbladid that the incident took place in August 2011.
“They’ll have to answer for what their plans were,” Jónasson said. “I can also corroborate that they wanted to get the cooperation of the national police and the national prosecutor’s office.”
The tiny Nordic nation has a long history of standing up to the world’s superpower. During the Cod Wars against Britain in the 1970s, Iceland threatened to kick out the U.S. airbase in Keflavik, if America did not step in. When the Icelandic banking industry collapsed in 2008, then-prime minister Geir Haarde said he would “seek new friends,” notably Russia, for economic assistance if the United States did not bail out his country.
Recently, Iceland has protested the activities of the U.S. embassy in downtown Reykjavik for its monitoring of people who pass through the immediate area, and actively discouraging the taking of pictures of the building, a perfectly legal activity.
Iceland had also been one of the center points of the Wikileaks scandal. Its Left-Green government eventually won a vicious legal battle with Valitor, the company behind Visa and Mastercard, after the credit card company refused to process payments to the whistle-blowing website.
Former Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a friend of the group’s founder Julian Assange, has been a repeated target of federal authorities, who were able to get her information from her Twitter account some time ago.
Jónsdóttir, one of the main people behind legislation to turn Iceland into a “journalist heaven” that would protect reporters and their sources, refuses to travel to the US out of fear of being arrested for her connections with WikiLeaks.