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Estonia demands release of its citizen sentenced to 15 years for espionage in Russia

August 19, 2015, 14:08 UTC+3 TALLINN
The European Union has also called on the Russian authorities to release Estonian national Eston Kohver
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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

TALLINN, August 19. /TASS/. Estonia demands to release its citizen Eston Kohver who has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for espionage by a Pskov court earlier today, the country’s Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said on Wednesday.

"We demand that Russia releases Kohver and guarantees his safe return to Estonia," the foreign minister said adding that Tallinn will ask the international community to expert pressure on Russia release the Estonian national. According to Kaljurand, Kohver "was denied appropriate legal assistance" during the trial.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said that Tallinn will seek release of Eston Kohver. "Estonia supports Kohver. Our governmental agencies will make every effort so that Russia releases him," Roivas wrote on his Twitter microblog. According to the Estonian prime minister, such actions represent "a grave violation of international law by the Russian side."

The European Union has also called on the Russian authorities to release Estonian national Eston Kohver, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement distributed in Brussels on Wednesday.

"The EU continues call on the Russian Federation to act according to its international obligations, release Mr Kohver immediately and guarantee his safe return to Estonia," Mogherini said adding that "Mr Kohver’s abduction and subsequent illegal detention in Russia constitute a clear violation of international law."

Earlier today, a court in Pskov sentenced Estonian citizen Eston Kohver to 15 years in jail and a 100,000 ruble fine. Kohver was found guilty in espionage, smuggling and illegal possession of arms, as well as in nine instances of illegally crossing the state border.

The prison term will be counted from Kohver’s detention on 5 September 2014. He was detained in Russia’s northwestern Pskov region for allegedly carrying out an undercover operation on the territory of Russia. The Russian Federal Security Service reported at that time that a handgun, 5,000 euros in cash, special covert audio recording equipment and materials indicative of a spying mission were confiscated from Kohver, when he was apprehended. Court proceedings started in Pskov on July 27. He was held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison since September 2014.

Kohver’s lawyer Yevgeny Aksyonov said the Estonian national will appeal his sentence. "I am not pleased with the sentence, but I will not appeal it. I know that Kohver is currently discussing this issue with the consulate and will probably appeal the sentence," Aksyonov said.

According to the lawyer, the court commuted the sentence to the Estonian national, considering only five out of nine instances of illegal border crossing. The court also took into account the fact that Kohver has four children (born in 2009, 2010 and 2013), Aksyonov added.

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