Thor Halvorssen is the president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, which he launched in 2005. Human rights runs deeply through the 39-year-old Halvorssen’s veins.
He’s half-Norwegian and half-Venezuelan and keeps vampire hours. While he grew up in Caracas, he spoke flawless, accent-less American English. His paternal grandfather was the king of Norway’s consul in Venezuela during World War II, and once got into a fistfight trying to protect his country from Nazis. His mother descends from Venezuela’s first president, as well as Simon Bolivar, Latin America’s George Washington, who fought off the Spanish Empire. His father was tortured in a Venezuelan prison and his mother was shot while protesting against the late Hugo Chavez.
Halvorssen proclaims his love for people, and the people he loves the most are dissidents. He’s put himself in danger for his cause. He snuck into a Vietnamese monastery in 2010 to interview a Buddhist patriarch whose church had been banned by authorities and who had lived under house arrest for years. Thor Halvorssen and his cameraman were arrested and detained until they convinced police that they were just looking for information about Buddhism.
Halvorssen stands against dictators, no matter their political stripe. The organization doesn’t spend time going over problems in the U.S. and other democratic countries. He and his organization focus their efforts on authoritarian regimes, where the most serious problems are. They feel they can magnify the voices of dissidents and political prisoners.
His organization has become widely known for its annual Oslo Freedom Forum, which people call, “Davos for Dissidents.” At the forum dissidents give talks and connect with powerful people who can help their cause.
He also has a side gig as a film producer. Thor founded The Moving Picture Institute in 2005, with a goal to promote freedom through film.
He’s also a health nut. He injects or ingests a whopping 35 supplements a day. His supreme goal, though, is to see the people of North Korea set free.