Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik says prison isolation has radicalised him
Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, said on Thursday his more than five-year prison isolation has radicalised him, a key point in his lawsuit against the Norwegian state over his prison conditions.
“I’ve become more radical. I was radical to start but these past five years I’ve become much more radical,” the 37-year-old said as he gave evidence against the state, which has appealed a lower court ruling that found it guilty of treating him “inhumanely”, primarily because of his isolation from other inmates.
In July 2011 Breivik, disguised as a police officer, tracked and gunned down 69 people, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoya, shortly after he killed eight people in a bombing outside a government building in Oslo. He said he killed his victims because they valued multiculturalism. He was sentenced in 2012 to 21 years in prison, which can be extended indefinitely as long as he is considered a threat.
In prison, the extremist has three cells where he can play video games and watch television on two sets. He also has a computer without internet access, gym machines, books and newspapers.
Despite the comfortable material conditions, an Oslo district court last April found the Norwegian state guilty of “inhumane” and “degrading” treatment, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The court’s main argument was his prolonged isolation: he has been held apart from other inmates since 2011 for security reasons. Breivik’s lawyer, Oystein Storrvik, argued that the isolation has rendered his client “mentally vulnerable”.
“I’m seriously affected by the isolation and radicalisation is perhaps the most serious effect of my isolation,” Breivik, who committed the bloodiest attack on Norwegian soil since the second world war, told the court on Thursday.
The state has meanwhile argued that Breivik has not been isolated, noting his multiple contacts with guards, with whom he plays backgammon, his lawyers and priests, and his correspondence with the outside world. The six-day hearing is being held for security reasons in the Skien prison in southern Norway where Breivik is incarcerated. It is scheduled to wind up on January 18, and a ruling is expected in February.