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Moscow City Court extends arrest of suspected Norwegian spy

The Moscow City Court has extended the arrest of Norwegian national Frode Berg for another two months

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court has extended the arrest of Norwegian national Frode Berg for another two months. Berg is accused of committing espionage in Russia, court sources told TASS on Wednesday.

"The Moscow City Court has upheld the motion of the investigators and extended custody for the defendant, Berg, until April 5," a court representative said. The court session was held behind closed doors since the case is highly classified.

Earlier, Berg’s lawyer Ilya Novikov told TASS that the Federal Security Service (FSB) had completed a pre-trial probe into the case, adding that the defense and the defendant were familiarized with the files of the criminal case. According to Novikov, a court trial will begin in February.

On Wednesday, Novikov told TASS that the defense expects to get an indictment next week, and then "by mid-February the criminal case against Berg should go to the Moscow City Court that will appoint a date for a preliminary hearing." He also expressed hope that "the court will pass a sentence by April". "Maybe some [court] session will be open," the lawyer admitted.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Frode Berg, 62, a Norwegian national, in Moscow in December 2017 during a special operation as he was receiving secret documents. He is being charged with spying under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code.

Berg’s attorneys, Ilya Novikov and Brynjulf Risnes, say he is pleading not guilty but admits that he cooperated with Norwegian intelligence agencies. According to his 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 and was unaware of the possible consequences. The Norwegian authorities refused to comment on Berg’s statement.

The defendant had worked at a checkpoint on the Norwegian-Russian border for more than 20 years. He was inspector employed by the the Border Commissariat, which is subordinated to the Norwegian Justice Ministry and responsible for the implementation of the bilateral treaty on the Russian-Norwegian border along with the procedure for 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.