Late one night two years ago, only days before Christmas, two burglars wearing ski masks climbed through an open window into the Oslo home of Arild Opheim and Elin Ruhlin Gjuvsland. The noise they made woke Elin first. She saw a shadow through the bedroom door. Next thing she knew, the two intruders were on top of her and Arild, holding them down on the mattress and saying, in English, "Don't look. Sleep. If look, we kill."
The thugs tied up the couple – both of whom have worked for years as journalists and program hosts for NRK, the state TV and radio broadcasting system – and gathered up various items, including computers and telephones. Arild and Elin also handed over their bank cards and pin codes. The men were "very aggressive" – one of them struck Elin in the head with a blunt metal object. But they also attempted, as the couple explained last Friday on the TV talk show Skavlan and in a Dagbladet op-ed, to "win sympathy by telling their story."
In a mixture of Spanish, Arabic, and broken English, they maintained that they "weren't evil people" but were "in a desperate situation. They wanted to be able to reside and work and lead a normal life in Norway. But their asylum application had been rejected. Now they had no other choice than to rob us and to get money to return home." In order to get back home "see their families," they "needed 20,000 kroner" – about $4000. "They'd had a tough life, while Norwegians had it good." Arild and Elin, said one of the crooks, deserved what they were getting.