Request Explanation of Weapons Purchased for Council of Europe Summit

The institute responsible for overseeing state purchases in Iceland wants the Police Commissioner to tally and justify the purchase of weapons and equipment for the Council of Europe Summit held in Iceland last month. Icelandic police spent ISK 185 million [$1.3 million, €1.2 million] from the state treasury on weapons for the summit and an additional ISK 151 million [$1.1 million, €1 million] on equipment such as helmets and vests. Morgunblaðið reported first.

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Central Public Procurement (Ríkiskaup), the institution responsible for handling the purchasing of supplies and service for state institutions has asked the Police Commissioner to submit a formal report on the purchases of weapons and equipment made for the European Council Summit to the Publications Office of the European Union and justify the purchases and how they were made.

A press release from police states that the total cost of the summit will be published before the end of July, including salary costs of 650 Icelandic police officers, 96 foreign police officers, and 120 other staff members of police who took part in the event. Salary costs for the event have already been estimated at ISK 1.4 billion [$10.3 million, €9.3 million]. Despite requests, police have not made public the number of weapons that were purchased for the summit, but underlined in the press release that the weapons purchased were mostly Glock pistols and MP5 submachine guns, “not machine guns.”

The security around the summit, which took place on May 16 and 17 in Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, was unlike anything ever before seen in Iceland. Large parts of the city centre were blocked off to the public and to motor vehicles and roads were closed temporarily for police-escorted heads of state travelling to and from the event.

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The press release from police emphasises the short period of time the institution had to prepare for the event and the relatively long time required to commission and deliver equipment to Iceland, implying that decisions on purchases needed to be made rapidly. Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson has stated that police will keep the weapons and equipment purchased for the event.

Cyberattacks on Icelandic State Institutions

Alþingi parliament of Iceland

Update: Pro-Russian hacker group NoName057 has claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks on Icelandic sites.

The website of Iceland’s Parliament, Alþingi, is currently down. Ragna Árnadóttir, the secretary-general of Alþingi, told Vísir that both the public website and the institution’s intranet are currently down. Some parties have warned of cyberattacks in relation to the Council of Europe Summit that began in Reykjavík today and continues until tomorrow.

The website of Iceland’s Supreme Court is also down as of the time of writing, but it is not confirmed whether the two site failures are connected. Icelandic Police stated this morning, however, that cyberattacks are being aimed at Icelandic sites and while the source has not been confirmed, there are some theories as to where the attacks are coming from. The Icelandic Ministries’ website and the Court of Appeal website have also reportedly been difficult to access this morning, though they are currently up as of the time of writing.

“I can confirm there are ongoing attacks on some websites,” stated Detective Superintendent Rúnólfur Þórhallsson of the National Police Commissioner’s Office. He adds that the number of cyberattacks on Icelandic sites has been steadily increasing in the days leading up to the European Council Summit. “Our emergency security team, CERT-IS, is leading our defence against this. They are well connected with cyber security experts in all institutions and companies. So there are broad defences that are activated when something like this happens.”

Delays to and from Keflavík Airport Next Week

Taxis at the airport

Travellers are recommended to expect delays to and from Keflavík Airport next week due to the Council of Europe Summit on May 16 and 17. Getting to the flight gate may take longer than usual as well: RÚV reports that passport control will be tightened and passengers on domestic flights will be searched for weapons. In Reykjavík, a large part of the city centre will be closed to vehicular traffic.

Most of the state heads who will be attending the summit will be travelling by private jet. They will receive police escorts to and from Keflavík Airport, which is expected to cause delays in traffic along Route 41 (Reykjanesbraut). For security reasons, the flying of drones along Route 41 and in the centre of Reykjavík will also be banned from 8:00 AM on May 15 to 12:00 PM on May 18.

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The periods with the most delays will be on Tuesday next week between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM and from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM on Wednesday, when leaders will travel to and from the airport with police escorts. As the escorts pass, roads will be closed to the public temporarily, then reopened. Travellers can expect delays to last up to one hour.

The area in light pink below will be closed to motor vehicles, while the area marked in bright pink will be fully closed to the public throughout the summit.

 

Armed Plain-Clothes Police and Snipers in Reykjavík for Council of Europe Summit

The Council of Europe summit that will be held in Reykjavík, Iceland next month will not only bring European officials to the streets of the capital, but also hundreds of armed police as well as snipers. RÚV reports that around 300 police officers have received special training in the use of firearms in preparation for the event. Some 250 suits have been purchased so that officers can be on duty in plain-clothes during the event.

Armed police officers are a very rare sight in Iceland, as ordinary police officers do not carry firearms on their person. Police vehicles are equipped with a firearm, and special forces do carry firearms on their person, but they are only called out for violent incidents. Such extensive security and law enforcement as is being prepared for the summit has never been seen in Iceland.

All streets around Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, where the summit will take place, will be closed to vehicular traffic May 16 and 17 during the event, though they will be open to pedestrians and cyclists. Drivers can expect delays across a broader area as heads of state will receive police escorts when they are travelling by car. In total, 44 heads of state have confirmed their attendance at the event.

Iceland has around 850 active police officers and most of them will be involved in the summit in one way or another. According to the Ministry of Justice, the cost of law enforcement for the event will be around ISK 1.4 billion [$10.3 million, €9.3 million].