US Embassy’s Surveillance Ignites Criticism

Published November 9, 2010

It has recently come to light that the US embassy is engaging in surveillance of the neighbourhood around the building. Icelandic politicians have likened the operation to spying, but American officials have said it’s just a security measure.
RÚV reported that the US embassy has admitted to engaging in what is known as a Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU), essentially extending security surveillance from beyond the building of the embassy itself and into the neighbourhood around it. Begun ten years ago, the operation saw a great revamping after late 2001.
SDUs are also conducted in Norway, Sweden and Finland, and authorities there have demanded explanations. The Norwegian media service Star City News reports that many Norwegians were outraged to learn of the practice, likening it to spying on private citizens.
The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights revealed the practice in parliament yesterday, and has asked state police to look into whether or not the US embassy has been engaging in spying on Icelanders.
Embassy spokesperson Laura Gritz has emphasized though that SDUs are “neither secret nor spying. It is not used against a host country or its citizens. It is simply to watch for suspicious activity within the vicinity of the embassy and its employees.” She added that the embassy was fully willing to discuss the matter further with Icelandic authorities.
A Norwegian blogger has has added to this explanation in more detail, saying in part “the SDU will be stationed outside the embassy, working in plain clothes and will do its best not to be noticed or seen as having anything to do with the embassy. The members will normally be recruited from police or military intelligence, and are usually very experienced in their chosen field. They will actively follow, photograph, videotape and monitor persons that they deem to be deserving of that treatment.”
Icelandic MP Álfheiður Ingadóttir has submitted a number of questions that she wants investigated, among them whether or not private citizens in Iceland have been spied upon, if the Icelandic government has been aware of this, and what area is under surveillance, among other questions.



News
Bæjarins Beztu Beef Up Security In Anticipation Of Bjúgnakrækir

Bæjarins Beztu Beef Up Security In Anticipation Of Bjúgnakrækir

by

Popular hot dog stand Bæjarins Beztu hired extra security last night in preparation for the arrival of the ninth Yule Lad, Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage Swiper). “We couldn’t afford losses like last year,” said the vendor on duty, Jói, when the Grapevine caught up with him last night. “He cleared us out, all the hot dogs, just gone. I’d only worked at Bæjarins Beztu a few months when Bjúgnakrækir hit us last year. One minute I’m selling a hot dog ‘with everything’ and the next I’m waking up on the floor and the whole place has been turned over. He ate it

News
Increase In Hospital Admissions Due To Snow

Increase In Hospital Admissions Due To Snow

by

There has been a sharp increase in the number of admissions at Landspítalinn, the National University Hospital of Iceland’s emergency room in the past few days after accidents caused by icy roads and pavements. The City of Reykjavík have been receiving about 700 phone calls each day to deal with the excessive snow, reports RÚV. Tens of vehicles and machines are used to plough the snow and clear the streets and pavements of ice. The snow ploughing begins at 4 am and continues through the evening. Regardless, a lot of the people admitted have been pedestrians who suffered injuries after slipping

News
Until Friday, Icelandair’s Hotel Marina Served “Apartheid” Cocktail

Until Friday, Icelandair’s Hotel Marina Served “Apartheid” Cocktail

by

Hotel Reykjavík Marina, owned by Icelandair, has apologised for the name of its “Apartheid” cocktail, after the online medium Africa Is A Country tweeted about it, submitting a photograph as evidence: The Apartheid cocktail, on sale at the Marina Hotel, Reykjavik (owner: @Icelandair) pic.twitter.com/IyrQkx60bU — AFRICA IS A COUNTRY (@AfricasaCountry) December 19, 2014 Icelandair’s first response was not an apology however. After @AfricasaCountry’s tweet, but before the apology, whoever handles Icelandair’s account tweeted back, apparently missing the point completely: “Simply scrumptious, enjoy!” Icelandair offered, adding: “Happy Holidays”: @AfricasaCountry Simply scrumptious, enjoy! Happy Holidays — Icelandair (@Icelandair) December 19, 2014 In

News
Hospital Office Container Fell Off Truck

Hospital Office Container Fell Off Truck

by

A container intended to accommodate doctors at Landspítalinn fell off a truck by Miklabraut, Reykjavík, Friday morning. This was reported by RÚV. Luckily, the container fell on a slip road and did thereby not seriously disturb traffic. Eighteen containers are currently being stacked on the hospital’s premises by Hringbraut, for doctors’ offices. Strike and negotiations Doctors at State hospitals started their first strike action ever late October. So far, negotiations between doctors and State have not produced results. On Friday morning, representatives of the Icelandic Medical Association met with representatives of the State to continue negotiations. Last week, Prime Minister

News
Coast Guard Will Return Guns —As Soon As They Can For Free

Coast Guard Will Return Guns —As Soon As They Can For Free

by

The 250 machine guns acquired from Norway, by the Coast Guard, to share with Iceland’s Police forces, have not been returned as intended. According to the Coast Guard’s public relations manager, they are waiting for an opportunity to ship the guns back without paying hefty shipping fees. This was reported by Vísir. This October, DV broke the news of the acquired weapons and plans within the Police to arm general patrol cars with the MP5 submachine guns. Traditionally, most Police officers have served unarmed, but are backed up, when needed, by special forces. A dispute then arose between authorities within

News
Skyrgámur Shares Seasonal Skyr Cake Recipe

Skyrgámur Shares Seasonal Skyr Cake Recipe

by

For centuries, each Christmas, I have indulged in Iceland’s greatest culinary innovation, Skyr. Now, this beloved strained yoghurt continues to gain popularity across continents. Earlier this year MS Iceland Dairies (Mjólkursamsalan) predicted that 60 million pots of skyr would be sold internationally and 8 million pots domestically. I’ve posted a number of my personal skyr recipes on my food blog, Skyrgámur’s Scrumptious Skyr Secrets, but in honour of the upcoming season I’m guest blogging here on the Grapevine to share my Ultimate Christmas Skyr Cake – Enjoy! Skyrgámur’s Ultimate Christmas Skyr Cake Ingredients Base 200 g (7 ounces) Dates, pitted

Show Me More!