Russian court sentences Norwegian ex-border inspector to 14 years for espionage

Archive photo of Frode Berg. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Frode Berg, a former border inspector from Kirkenes, Arctic Norway, does not appeal the sentence delivered by the Moscow City Court.

“Frode Berg is declared guilty of having committed a crime described by Article 276 in the Russian Criminal Code (“espionage”) and is sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment in a high security colony,” judge Andrey Suvorov said in court early the 16th April.

The 17 months that Berg has been in detention will be included in the punishment, Suvorov made clear.

Berg will also have to pay a €15,000 fine, TASS reports.

Frode Berg has not plead guilty, but will still not appeal the sentence.

The court proceedings have taken place behind closed doors and the judge only read the introductory parts of the sentence, as well as the verdict. The verdict will come into force in few days whereupon Berg can submit a request for pardon.

Seeking a diplomatic agreement
In Kirkenes, the hometown of Frode Berg, near Norway’s border to Russia, were portraits of the spy-accused pensioner displayed on border poles as part of a street art exhibition. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Frode Berg’s Russian lawyer Ilya Novikov underlines that he will now work for a diplomatic agreement in the case.

“For us, a happy end will be a pardon,” he says to TASS. He also expressed gratitude to the administration of the Lefortovo prison for having let Berg spend the 17 months behind bars in a cell together with an English-speaking prisoner.

Berg’s second lawyer, Norwegian Brynjulf Risnes, believes the convict will be able to return to Norway soon.

“I do not believe that Russian authorities have any interest in Berg sitting many years in a Russian prison. I am pretty confident that there will be a resolution in quite short time,” he says to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Berg was detained in downtown Moscow on 5th December 2017 and was soon afterwards charged with espionage against Russia. He has since been locked up in Lefortovo, the Russian security service FSB’s notorious detention center.

Berg has admitted that he has cooperated with Norwegian intelligence and that he has been in Russia as courier. When detained he reportedly carried €3,000 in cash.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Chinese-made equipment in Canada’s Arctic ships under scrutiny, CBC News

Finland: Should Russian dual citizens be barred from Finnish military’s upper ranks?, Yle News

Norway: Norway releases Russian man detained over suspicion of espionage, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Lefortovo prison: a haunting song from the Barents region, The Independent Barents Observer

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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