They will be writing articles and comments for the paper the following weeks, here's one of the first:
Wanted by the FBI
(OSLO-NEWARK CO 39): "What can I do for you?" asks a uniformed, and probably armed, security guard through the tall fence surrounding the American embassy in Oslo.
"Actually, I'm here to apply for a journalist visa." At this time I do not yet know the FBI is after me.
"Did you fill out the forms?"
"Yes", I said, and thought of the hours I'd spent filling out the elaborate forms with charming names such as: DS-156 and DS-157. The embassy should know most there is to know about me by now. (I've never been convicted of terror, have rarely been involved with genocides and my grandfather was not employed in nazi-Germany.)
Before showing up at 8:30am I'd studied the embassy's home page carefully. They can't remind you enough to remember everything.
Remember: One passport photo (2.5'' by 2.5'', ears
showing, do not smile). Also remember an envelope size A4 or C5, and exactly 68
kroner ($12.40) for stamps. Remember: If the forms are found to be missing
anything, you will be sent home. Remember: 750 kroner or exactly $131 in cash.
It's obvious they don't want any forgetful scatterbrains visiting the US. Remember.
"Bring your forms and get in line," says the firm guard with the very proper haircut.
"Turn off your cell phone!"
"Turn off your laptop!"
"Hold out your hands!" By now I'm inside some sort of security booth.
I'm obedient, as a trained dog, some might say.
Cell phone, laptop and the rest of the contents of my bag is scanned and left in the booth. I'm told only the application forms will be brought inside the embassy. But what about the newspapers? The embassy's home page informed us of several hours waiting time, even for the simples errands. VG and Aftenposten can hardly be a threat to national security.
"No what? I can't bring my papers inside? I'll be waiting for hours in there?"
"Yes, that's right. But you can't bring newpapers."
Are they afraid I'll miraculously manage to cut someone with the paper? Or hit someone over the head with the sports section if the service is bad? Either way, I'll be hard through that bullet proof glass. I take comfort in the fact that a country which fears a couple of newspapers has to be worth visiting.
After an hour of waiting, without newspapers, it's finally my turn. My name is called from speaker. Behind a thick sheet of bullet proof glass is a nice women in her forties, speaking English into a microphone.
"How do you do, Mr. Thorkildsen," it squeeks.
"I'm good ma'm I reply," just like I've heard people do in the movies. I put my finger on the finger print scanner.
"Tell me, did you go to the United States in 2007?"
"Yes. I think I would have remembered."
"Hmm... Well, you see, when I enter your name into the computer a warrant comes up. And your name, Thorkildsen, it is rare, you know. Not like Olsen or Hansen."
"True, true. But a warrant?"
"Yes, that is what it says. "Wanted by the FBI"."
Wow. The FBI. Then it's got to be serious. Luckily, the lack of a stamp in my passport confirms I did not visit the US in 2007. But the FBI? The last time I saw an American TV show, the FBI were involved in pretty serious cases. A simple prank wouldn't do it. As it happens, I did get yelled at once, for throwing an eighties party when I was studying in the US in 2004. Apparently the campus police felt it was bad form to serve alcohol to students no older than 20 years of age.
"Does it say why there is a warrant?" I ask.
"No, but luckily for you, Mr Thorkildsen, it seems this person is older, and the name is spelled somewhat different. So, since you did not go to the States in 2007, it can't be you, can it?"
"No, I guess not."
"Ok. Well, you can come back tomorrow and pick up your visa," the woman says and flashes a smile.
I get a little blue note where it says "If you loose this ticket your visa may be delayed for two weeks." In other words: REMEMBER!
And yes, I did remember the little blue note and I did get my visa.
PS: If you have a name which looks like Christian Thorkildsen: You're wanted in the US. It would be nice if you could stop crapping on the name of us relatively law abiding Christian Thorkildsens. Those of us who aren't wanted by the FBI.
Written by Christian Thorkildsen January 28th, 6pm