A year later, junta won’t let Telenor Myanmar head go home

Telenor Myanmar CEO Jon Omund Revhaug. Photo: Telenor
Telenor Myanmar CEO Jon Omund Revhaug. Photo: Telenor

The junta is still refusing to let a Telenor’s top Norwegian executive leave the country, while his colleagues seek his return after over a year.

Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said company management communicates regularly with their executive and is trying to find the best way to get him out of Myanmar, an effort that includes Norwegian authorities.

“I can not go into all the dialogues we have had, but I can say we have used all possible alternatives that fortunately have succeeded in getting many others out,” Brekke told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corp.

There is concern that the executive is being held as a pawn to put pressure on the company. Since mid-2020, Telenor Myanmar has been led by Jon Omund Revhaug.

Under pressure to give up data about its customers, Telenor sold its mobile business in the country to M1 Group, a Lebanese investment firm with ties to authoritarian governments.

Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke in a 2016 file photo. Photo: Sigve Brekke / Facebook

But the transaction has yet to be approved by the junta seven months after the sale, and an industry source told Myanmar Now earlier this month that the junta wants to sell it to a military-linked conglomerate, a move that likely to increase the regime’s surveillance powers. 

Sigve said he is concerned about the safety of all 730 employees Telenor has in Myanmar. 

“And now we are looking at this together with the Norwegian authorities to try to find a solution,” he told NRK.

Asked if it was important for Telenor to complete the transaction in order to get its executive out, Sigve said the company was still waiting for a response to an application it filed many months ago.

“We have to wait and see, and in the meantime, we are trying to handle the situation we have now with the leading employee on the ground,” he said. “Fortunately, we have received assistance from Norwegian foreign authorities to see if we can find solutions.”

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