‘I Had No Idea’: Corbyn Says He Didn’t Mean To Pose for Selfie With Neo-Nazi

The former Labour leader said he didn't know the man who asked for a selfie after a pro-Julian Assange event in Oslo was far-right agitator Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen.
jeremy corbyn Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen photo
Photo: Facebook

Former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has clarified that he had no idea that a man he posed for a photo with in Oslo on Sunday was a notorious Norwegian far-right activist.

Corbyn, a veteran left-wing MP, was photographed smiling alongside Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen, a far-right provocateur who is the leader of Norway’s fringe, radical-right Alliansen (The Alliance) group. 

The photo, which Johansen posted on Facebook with the words “Jeremy Corbyn, a good man speaking the truth,” was taken outside an event in support of the jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, where Corbyn had delivered a speech. Despite their contrasting politics, both Corbyn and Johansen are long standing advocates for Assange, who has drawn strong support from both sides of the political spectrum in his battle against extradition to the United States.


Johansen is notorious for his racist and antisemitic statements, including that he agreed with much of neo-Nazi terrorist Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto.

The picture was soon being shared widely online, prompting calls for the former Labour leader to account for being seen alongside a notorious racist agitator.

On Monday, Corbyn’s office told VICE News that he had no idea who Johansen was when he was approached outside the event in support of Assange.

“This is an absurd story. Jeremy clearly had no idea who this individual was, and he condemns his politics in the strongest possible terms,” said the spokesperson. 

“Throughout his career, Jeremy has endured significant – and often violent – opposition for standing up to the far-right. Their duplicitous motives and thirst for cheap publicity are well-known.”

On his Twitter account, Corbyn wrote that he was “approached for selfies on a daily basis from strangers” and “had no idea … who this individual was.”

Johansen, who interviewed Assange in 2010 and said he was a longstanding supporter of WikiLeaks, said he had approached Corbyn after the event, exchanged pleasantries and complimented the UK politician on his “inspiring” speech, before requesting the photograph.

He said that while his politics differed starkly from Corbyn’s, he admired his staunch support of Assange, which is why he described him as “a good man speaking the truth.”

“We’re meeting from the left and right in support of Julian Assange and the massive injustice that he’s been subject to,” he said.

Corbyn, a veteran MP hailing from the left of the Labour party, was leader of the opposition from 2015 to 2020, before being replaced by Keir Starmer. He was suspended from Labour in October 2020 over his comments in response to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into antisemitism within the Labour party, in which he insisted the problem had been overstated for political reasons. 

Since then, Corbyn has continued to serve his north London electorate as an independent MP, and has been battling the party leadership to be able to run as a Labour candidate in the next election.

Johansen’s Alliansen – typically described as a “micro-party” in Norwegian media – is a fringe presence in Norwegian politics, winning only a few thousand votes in each of the two national elections it’s contested. In 2021, Johansen was embroiled in controversy after turning up at a Norwegian school and handing out cash to students if they promised they wouldn’t be vaccinated, prompting school officials to call the police.