Norway killer Breivik laments censorship, cold coffee behind bars
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Anders Behring Breivik gunned down scores of teenagers in a methodical killing rampage last year on the Norwegian island of Utoya, at one point telling fleeing youths, ‘You’re all going to die.’
Now serving a 21-year prison sentence, Breivik has held forth on the topic of cruelty, weighing in on what he calls ‘an almost indescribable manifestation of sadism.’
A bendable pen.
‘It’s a nightmare of a tool and I get frustrated by using it,’ Breivik wrote in a lengthy letter to prison officials, as quoted by the tabloid Verdens Gang (link in Norwegian). The specially designed pen he is given to use -- so soft that it cannot be used as a weapon -- is ‘ergonomically malformed’ and hurts him so much he cannot write, he complained.
The rubbery pen is just one in a litany of laments from Breivik, confined to three rooms at Ila Prison at a cost of more than $1.2 million annually to Norwegian taxpayers.
In the letter, Breivik reportedly complains of being searched every day in the nude and argues that his mail is so strictly censored that his freedom of expression has been stripped. When he is transferred from one area to another, his handcuffs are so sharp they cut into his wrists, he alleged. His cell is chilly, he wrote, and the light switch is outside, forcing him to wait ‘up to 40 minutes’ after summoning the guards to turn it on. At mealtimes, there isn’t enough butter for the bread and the coffee is cold, the letter added, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency, quoting the tabloid.
Furthermore, the officers are ‘unwelcoming,’ Breivik wrote, according to the Norwegian tabloid. When he brushes his teeth, they supervise him, subjecting him to ‘mental pressure to quickly finish.’
His attorney Tord Jordet confirmed to reporters that Breivik had written the complaint. ‘He is aware that, taken separately, his grievances can seem unimportant, but taken together, they paint a grim picture,’ Jordet told AFP on Friday. ‘His freedom of speech is being violated.’
Prison spokeswoman Ellen Bjercke did not immediately respond to a request from The Times for comment late Friday in Norway. She told the Associated Press that Breivik had been given an electric typewriter Friday, but that it wasn’t tied to his complaint, which prison officials were still considering.
Norway prides itself on treating prisoners humanely, so much so that many foreign observers were stunned to learn Breivik would occupy the same three rooms as during his trial. During his trial, he had access to a computer, which has since been taken away, according to Norwegian media.
Breivik freely confessed and was convicted of killing 77 people, most of them teenagers, in an Oslo bombing and a shooting rampage nearby Utoya Island on July 22, 2011. He called the massacre an attempt to save Norway from being overrun with Muslims.
Survivors were unmoved by his plight, Verdens Gang reported.
‘Breivik must remember that he’s not in prison for stealing a pair of socks,’ Utoya survivor Eivind Rindal told the paper. He should be thankful to be imprisoned in Norway, Rindal added. ‘A lot of other countries would have treated someone who did what he has done very differently.’
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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik holds a specially made soft pen in an Oslo courtroom in April. Credit: Heiko Junge / Associated Press