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Extended arrest of suspected Norwegian spy is ‘good news’, attorney says

Earlier, Moscow’s Lefortovsky Court sustained a motion by investigators to extend Norwegian citizen Frode Berg’s custody by two months until December 5

MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. Defense Attorney Ilya Novikov has commented on the extension of his client’s arrest, Norwegian citizen Frode Berg, detained in Russia in late 2017 on espionage charges, saying that this is good news for him.

"I see this as good news for Berg," he said commenting on the court’s ruling to extend his client’s arrest until December 5.

Novikov also suggested that, if Russia had any plans concerning Berg, "they would have to be modified now." "Until today’s hearing, we were confident that the investigators were going to complete the investigation by October and take the case to court by the end of the year. Now that a Russian citizen has been detained in Oslo on espionage charges, the following question arises: is that the individual Berg will be exchanged for?" he questioned. "Maybe, Russia and Norway will drop the charges on a reciprocal basis, and, perhaps, this is not the last extension of Berg’s arrest."

Earlier on Monday, Moscow’s Lefortovsky Court sustained a motion by investigators to extend Berg’s custody by two months until December 5. The hearing was held behind closed doors.

Frode Berg case

The Norwegian was detained in Moscow on December 5, 2017, during a special operation by the Federal Security Service, the FSB. He was charged with spying under Section 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage).

Berg’s defense attorneys Ilya Novikov and Brynjulf Risnes said their client pleaded not guilty but admitted to cooperating with Norway’s intelligence agencies. According to the lawyers, their client acknowledged that he had visited Russia as a courier for the Norwegian Intelligence Service but did not understand what he was doing, nor was he aware of the possible repercussions. The Norwegian authorities refused to comment on Berg’s statements.

Novikov earlier told TASS that his client could be exchanged for Mikhail Bochkarev, a Russian parliamentary official arrested in Norway on similar charges. He noted though it was too early to talk about that now, since no charges have been pressed against the Russian national yet.