MOSCOW, April 16. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court found Norwegian citizen Frode Berg guilty of spying against Russia, sentencing him to 14 years in a maximum-security prison, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom on Tuesday.
“The court finds defendant Frode Berg guilty of committing a crime under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Court (“espionage”) and sentences him to 14 years behind bars in a maximum-security colony,” Judge Andrei Suvorov said.
The court announced only an introductory and resolutive part of the verdict. The court proceeding on the case was held behind closed doors as the case contains secret files.
The hearing began at the Moscow City Court on April 2. It is held behind closed doors as the case involves classified material.
At the hearing, lawyer Ilya Novikov told TASS that Berger’s attorneys insisted on acquitting him, but had “no illusions in this regard.” During his speech, Frode Berg impressed the court and spoke with great dignity about what he had previously done. “In particular, he strengthened friendly ties between Russia and Norway. He regrets about the damage that could affect cooperation between the two countries [after a guilty verdict],” he said
According to the lawyer, the prosecutors demand a 14-year sentence as the defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charges. “The public prosecutors insist that our client had been fully aware what was going on and indeed tried to obtain data containing state secrets,” Novikov said. Berg claims that he had not known the possible consequences.
Earlier, the Moscow City Court extended Berg’s arrest until September 22. According to investigators, he collected information about Russia’s nuclear-powered submarines, which he obtained from an employee of a Russian defense enterprise who acted under control of special services. The prosecutors claim that Berg worked for Norway’s intelligence service for a money reward.
Berg was detained in Moscow in December 2017 during a special operation carried out by the Federal Security Service (FSB). He is charged with espionage under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code.
The lawyers say he pleads not guilty but admits cooperation with Norwegian intelligence agencies. According to the lawyers, their client admits he visited Russia acting as a courier for the Norwegian Intelligence Service but did not understand what he was actually doing and was unaware of the possible consequences. Norway’s authorities declined to comment on Berg’s statement.
Berg worked at a checkpoint on the Norwegian-Russian border for more than 20 years. He was an inspector at a government agency subordinate the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, responsible for the implementation of a bilateral treaty on the Russian-Norwegian border and the resolution of border conflicts and incidents.
TASS – Russian News Agency