MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian courtroom convicted a Norwegian man on Tuesday of gathering espionage about nuclear submarines and jailed him for 14 years, a verdict that would pressure relations between Moscow and its NATO-member neighbor.
Frode Berg, a 63-year-old retired former guard on the Norwegian-Russian border, was detained in Moscow in December 2017 and tried behind closed doorways this month. He pleaded not responsible to fees of espionage on behalf of Norway.
Berg won’t enchantment the decision and plans to request a presidential pardon from Vladimir Putin that will see him freed, in line with his lawyer, Ilya Novikov.
Norway’s International Ministry mentioned it had “famous” the decision however didn’t touch upon its substance. It mentioned it was working in a number of methods to carry Berg again to Norway.
“Norwegian authorities… want to see the secure return of Frode Berg to Norway,” a ministry spokeswoman mentioned.
Berg, who was carrying a swimsuit and was handcuffed as he watched proceedings from a glass cage, acknowledged having been caught dealing with delicate materials for Norwegian authorities however denied having any thought he was concerned in espionage. Particulars of the case haven’t been revealed as they’re labeled.
Requested by the choose in Russian if he understood the courtroom’s verdict, Berg bowed his head barely and mentioned “sure” in English.
“He had no illusions. He expects his authorities will take all essential steps to safe his launch by way of diplomatic measures,” protection lawyer Novikov mentioned.
Final week, Putin appeared to depart the door open to the chance that Berg could possibly be pardoned or presumably exchanged as a part of a prisoner swap.
Requested throughout talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg about the potential of a pardoning, Putin mentioned: “We should look forward to the courtroom proceedings…We are going to check out what we are able to do with this relying on the courtroom’s determination.”
Novikov mentioned he was not conscious of any talks underneath approach between Oslo and Moscow to safe Berg’s launch and that it might take a “vital” diplomatic push for it to occur.
“A presidential pardon shouldn’t be one thing that’s granted within the pure course of occasions, however with diplomatic measures it’s fairly attainable,” Novikov mentioned.
Reporting by Tom Balmforth with extra reporting by Victoria Klesty in Oslo; Enhancing by Mark Heinrich