2 arrested at likely N.Y. Clinton wedding site

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2010

RHINEBECK, N.Y. (AP) — Two Norwegian journalists face trespassing charges after they were arrested snapping photos of the New York estate where Chelsea Clinton is expected to get married.

Thomas Bjorn Nilsson, 43, of New York, and Kjerste Sortland, 41, of Snorova, Norway, were charged with a violation after they were stopped around 2 p.m. Wednesday on the Astor Estate in this picturesque town along the Hudson River 90 miles north of New York City, according to Maj. Michael A. Kopy of the New York State Police.

Media reports indicate Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will marry investment banker Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday, July 31, at the estate.

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Reached in Oslo, Helje Solberg, managing editor for the newspaper Verdens Gang, said police went overboard when Nilsson and Sortland tried to take pictures of the gate. She said they were not on the property.

‘‘We did not realize it was forbidden to take the picture of the gate of the house where the Clinton wedding is to be,’’ she said.

Solberg said the paper will pay the fine — in New York, trespassing is a violation punishable by up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine up to $250 — even though ‘‘we see this as an overreaction.’’

‘‘The Clinton wedding has a public interest,’’ Solberg said.

Kopy said police have gotten more calls than usual related to the estate, designed by renowned architect Stanford White for John Jacob Astor IV, the early 20th-century millionaire who died when the Titanic went down. It was recently on the market for $12 million, real estate agents said.

Rhinebeck, a town of about 8,000, is just 75 miles from the home in Chappaqua, N.Y., that the former president and first lady bought before Hillary Clinton’s successful run for the U.S. Senate in 2000. The Clintons have passed through the town a number of times.

Kopy said Nilsson and Sortland identified themselves as journalists and were taking pictures. He did not know if the images were confiscated and was not aware whether they mentioned the Clinton wedding. He said state police are working with the Secret Service ahead of the wedding and will be diligent about keeping the Astor Estate secure.

‘‘We’re aware of the visit by the former president of the United States and are working with the U.S. Secret Service as we do with all visits by protectees of the Secret Service,’’ Kopy said.

‘‘We’re responding to calls (around the estate),’’ he said. ‘‘Anybody who is located on the grounds of the estate will be arrested and prosecuted.’’

An e-mail to a spokesman for Bill Clinton was not immediately returned.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the agency would have no comment on the matter.

Nilsson and Sortland are due in court on Aug. 12.