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Latvian court sentences ex-Interior Ministry employee to 15 years for espionage

In mid-October 2018, the Latvian State Security Service apprehended Oleg Burak, a Latvian citizen, born in 1956, over suspicions of espionage for Russia

RIGA, August 17. /TASS/. Riga’s Vidzeme Suburbs Court sentenced former Latvian Interior Ministry employee Oleg Burak to 15 years in prison over charges of espionage, Burak’s lawyer Imma Jansone told TASS Monday.

"Burak’s sentence was announced during a court hearing. The court ruled him guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison, as the prosecutors demanded," she said.

According to Jansone, the defense insisted on full exoneration.

"We will definitely appeal - I have already filed an inquiry for the ruling’s full text to that extent. In my opinion, there is not a single proof of his guilt, [Burak] himself also pleads not guilty. This case is definitely politicized," the lawyer said.

In mid-October 2018, the Latvian State Security Service (VDD) apprehended Oleg Burak, a Latvian citizen, born in 1956, over suspicions of espionage for Russia. Burak worked for the Ministry of the Interior for a long time and retired in late 2006. He was put under arrest.

Searches at Burak’s place discovered data storage devices with over 13,000 files, two makeshift firearms, ammo, explosives and special equipment that private citizens are not allowed to buy, possess and use. In late March last year, the VDD asked the prosecutor’s office to initiate criminal proceedings against Burak over charges of espionage, illegal trafficking of firearms, dissemination of pornography and illegal trafficking of special equipment. In late May, the prosecutor’s office handed the case to the Vidzeme Suburbs Court, which began reviewing the case in mid-June.

Earlier, Jansone told TASS that her client denies all allegations and pleads not guilty. Burak believes that the case against him is an act of revenge for his fight against corruption during his service in the Ministry of the Interior. He was previously fired for that but was later restored in office.