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Detained Norwegian Radio Amateur Now Allowed to Leave Chad

10/24/2018

A tense situation involving a Norwegian radio amateur that reached the diplomatic and foreign ministry level in the African Republic of Chad now has been resolved. Kenneth Opskar, LA7GIA, had only operated as TT8KO for about a day before security police shut down his station on October 10. At that point, he’d logged and uploaded 2,150 contacts and had installed all antennas except a 160-meter vertical. Opskar considered the incident a minor distraction, until he was told that he had to remain in Chad pending undetermined scrutiny of his station and activity. Now, after having been detained in Chad for more than a week, Opskar said on October 24 that he’s free to go.

“I received the news that I can leave Chad immediately,” Opskar told DX-World, which has been posting updates on a running basis. His solo DXpedition is over, however.

“I am not allowed to transmit. All antennas are to be taken down today before sunset, because there is a presidential event at the hotel tomorrow, and he will be here,” Opskar said. “Hotel is now packed with VIPs, police, and military personnel. I am done with sightseeing, so my flight is booked for tomorrow.”

Initially, Opskar had remained optimistic that all would be well after the security police chief’s personal inspection of his equipment. Things got more stressful on October 13, however, after he underwent two interrogations by the security police. “My gear has been disconnected,” he said at the time. “The antennas on the roof are locked down, [and] I cannot access them even for visual inspection or maintenance. I am not allowed to touch anything.”

On October 14, Opskar reported that the security police had deemed all of his documents to be in order. “However, what now causes the delay is the fact that ARCEP [Chad’s telecommunications regulator], which issued all documents, did not inform the security police. The police do not issue authorizations, but supervise the national security. The police are now after ARCEP, not me. Still, even after lots of meetings…they can’t say when they will inform me.” Opskar made plans to leave Chad on October 18 but was not permitted to disassemble his equipment until an inspection was completed.

On October 18, however, Opskar reported that a police order had been issued preventing him from leaving Chad, even without his equipment. “The Norwegian embassy and foreign ministry [are] now working on the issue,” he said at the time.

Opskar said the many encouraging emails every day from DXers around the world helped to keep up his spirit. He said the staff of the hotel where he’s staying had been very supportive too.

Licensed since 1992, Opskar has operated either solo or with another radio amateur from Malawi, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Chad.

 



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