Frode Berg prepared for prolonged detention
In a few hours, the prison meeting for Frode Berg begins. Defender Ilja Novikov believes the judge probably already has written the warrant that gives him extended custody.
The Russian defender of the Norwegian national is referring to Thursday’s court hearing as a formality in which all actors in advance know what will be presented, what will be said and what the outcome will be.
– the sentence is probably written already. I expect the detention to be extended by three months, Novikov told NTB.
He says that prison terms are extended as a rule until a case is brought before the court in Russia.
– When it’s talk of a high-profile case with a spy indictment, there’s absolutely no practice for the detention of prisoners not to be extended, Novikov says.
At least five trips
VG and Sør-Varanger Avis have mapped the at least five trips the Russian Security Police FSB believes Frode Berg made on behalf of the Norwegian Intelligence Services. On the trips, which started on June 11th, 2015 and lasted until December 3rd, 2017, Berg published photos and travel updates on Facebook.
– We have had a very strong impression that Frode Berg has not fully understood what it meant to get involved in this. He has seen it as a service he performed and did not expect it to have any consequences for him personally. These Facebook updates confirm this impression, says one of Berg’s representatives, lawyer Brynjulf Risnes, to VG.
No admission of guilt
The retired border inspector Frode Berg was arrested in Moscow on December 5th last year with € 3,000 in cash, which the FSB believes was meant to be paid to a person in exchange for secret information about the Russian North Fleet.
According to his lawyers, Berg admits that he was in Moscow on behalf of the Norwegian Intelligence Services, but only as an ignorant courier.
– I emphasize that Berg has not admitted any kind of guilt. He denies having been in Russia as a spy, Novikov emphasizes.
The 62-year-old is detained in the high-security prison Lefortovo under conditions that Novikov describes as being difficult.
– My assessment is that there is no immediate danger to Frode Berg’s health. But isolation and lack of physical activity is not good for a man with his health condition. If we do not reach a solution in the next few months, it will have a significant negative effect on his health condition, Novikov says.
He adds that Frode Berg is aware of his situation and is prepared to remain in custody.
Berg has stated that he is disappointed with the support from the Norwegian authorities. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, (Conservatives) maintained that Berg’s case is a “consular case” in an interview with NTB recently, at the same time as she stated that the UD is working along several avenues to safeguard his interests as best as possible.
The Norwegian Intelligence Service has refused to answer NTB questions regarding whether Berg worked for them.
– We never comment on this type of question, neither who works or have worked for the Intelligence Service, was the answer from the Department of Defense’s press officer, Lars Gjemble.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today