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Anger in Norway over claim Anders Breivik has applied to university

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Highlights
  • Anders Behring Breivik has applied to study political science, Norwegian broadcaster says
  • University of Oslo says it cannot confirm or deny details of individual applications
  • Education Minister suggests Breivik's application was denied
  • Breivik's lawyer says he is still working to spread his far-right political views from his cell

By Per Nyberg and Laura Smith-Spark

Reports that Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in a bomb attack and gun rampage in 2011, has applied to study political science at the University of Oslo have prompted anger in Norway.

The claim was first made by Norwegian broadcaster TV2 and was subsequently picked up by other media outlets.

Ole Petter Ottersen, rector of the University of Oslo, told CNN the university does not provide information about individual applications or students for confidentiality reasons, so he was unable to confirm or deny the claim.

But if Breivik was to apply, he said, the university has a clear set of guidelines governing the decision on admittance and that policy would apply.

Breivik was sentenced to the maximum possible term of 21 years in prison last August for the horrifying attack, which targeted a government building in Oslo and a Labour Party summer youth camp on Utoya island.

He is serving his sentence in a high security wing of Ila Prison, where he has space for physical exercise as well as study and reading.

But the suggestion that he might also be able to follow a course at the prestigious university from his cell has angered some Norwegians.

Per Anders Langerod, a survivor of the Utoya shooting who finished his Political Science degree last year, told TV2 he would not have wanted Breivik in his class.

"It would have been very uncomfortable. I also understand others who think it would have been very uncomfortable. I mean that we can't expect people to just accept it," he told the broadcaster.

In the wake of the reports, Norway's Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen said Wednesday that the ministry was reviewing its rules on allowing inmates to study -- although that did not mean they would necessarily change.

Her statement appeared to confirm that Breivik had applied to the university, and that his application had been turned down.

"As far as the Ministry of Education knows he has not been accepted to any studies and he has been rejected in the normal admission process to the University of Oslo," Halvorsen said of Breivik.

Students who meet the admissions criteria will not normally be excluded unless they pose a danger to other students and staff, she said -- an assessment that is made by the correctional service.

But in Breivik's case, even if he was admitted to the course he would not be taking part in the university's normal classes, studies or exams, she said.

"For an inmate of Anders Behring Breivik's security level, it would be a matter of self-study in the cell, exams in the cell and possibly oral exams in the prison," she said.

When he was given a 21-year sentence last year, after being judged sane, Breivik was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison. The sentence could be extended, potentially indefinitely, in the future if he is considered still to pose a threat to society.

Meanwhile, comments from his lawyers suggest that Breivik still seeks to voice and validate the extreme ultranationalist views he outlined in an online "manifesto" published before the July 22, 2011, attack and during his trial.

A year ago, attorney Tord Jordet told the Norwegian press that Breivik wanted to study political science and write books.

And in an interview broadcast Sunday by CNN affiliate TV4 Sweden, Breivik's chief trial lawyer, Geir Lippestad, confirmed that his client was still seeking to disseminate his racist, far-right views from behind bars.

He is not allowed access to the Internet, Lippestad said, but Breivik writes letters and sends them to his supporters. "They then post them on the Internet so that his opinions are still spread," he said.

Breivik has even unsuccessfully tried to start a political party from his cell, said the lawyer, who has written a book about his experience defending Breivik.

"His political project is not finished," he said of Breivik. "He has his extreme right-wing opinions, and is still working to convince others to take up the same opinions."

Lippestad told TV4 he is concerned that the kind of views espoused by Breivik are not being discussed in wider society, allowing them to remain unchallenged.

"In this, Norway hasn't made any progress from where we were two years ago, on July 22. And that worries me," he said.

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