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Diplomat says arrest of Norwegian national suspected of espionage won't mar bilateral ties

December 28, 2017, 18:20 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Berg arrived in Moscow on December 4 to visit his relatives and friends

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Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 28./TASS/. Russia is confident that the arrest in Moscow of Norwegian national Frode Berg, suspected of espionage, will not mar bilateral relations, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Thursday.

"As for a major blow to bilateral relations, I think this is absolutely not the case. We are developing relations with Norway on different trajectories, such things happen. This is unpleasant, but our country’s laws envisage adequate measures in this case," the diplomat said.

Zakharova said that the Norwegian national, who is currently in the Lefotovo remand prison, is entitled to all rights envisaged by law, including the right to a counsel, interpreter, consular meetings and medical support. "No complaints or some claims are coming from the remand detainee," she added.

On December 9, Moscow’s Lefortovo court sanctioned the arrest of Frode Berg until February 5. According to media reports, FSB officers detained Frode Berg in Moscow during a special operation where classified documents illegitimately changed hands. Investigators believe that a Russian citizen, Alexey Zhitnyuk, who is accused of high treason (Section 275 of Russia’s Criminal Code) handed over documents on the Russian Navy to Berg. The Lefortovo District Court handed down an order to arrest Zhitnyuk in late November.

According to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Berg arrived in Moscow on December 4 to visit his relatives and friends. Earlier, he worked at a checkpoint on the Norwegian-Russian border. He was inspector of the Border Commissariat subordinated to the Norwegian Justice Ministry and responsible for the abidance by the bilateral treaty on the Russian-Norwegian border and the procedure of the settlement of border conflicts and incidents. Berg, who lives in the Norwegian town of Kirkenes, nine kilometers from the Russian border, retired in 2014.

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