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Russian prosecutors demand 14-year sentence for suspected Norwegian spy

Berg was detained in Moscow in December 2017 during a special operation carried out by the Federal Security Service

MOSCOW, April 9. /TASS/. Prosecutors asked the Moscow City Court on Tuesday to find Norwegian citizen Frode Berg guilty of spying against Russia and sentence him to 14 years in jail.

"During the hearing of arguments, the prosecutor asked to sentence Frode Berg to 14 years behind bars in a maximum security colony," Prosecutor Milana Digayeva said.

The hearing began at the Moscow City Court on April 2. It is held behind closed doors as the case involves classified material. The sentence will be announced at 9.30 a.m. Moscow Time on April 16.

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 case

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.