Frode Berg sentenced to 14 years for spying

Frode BergMoscow, Russia. Frode Berg. Photo: Tore Meek / NTB scanpix

Frode Berg sentenced to 14 years for spying

Frode Berg is today sentenced to 14 years in prison for spying against Russia. “Berg may have to spend up to one year behind bars in Russia before he is eligible to be pardoned,” former intelligence top believes.


Frode Berg (63) is sentenced to 14 years in prison by the Moscow District Court for espionage. The verdict is in line with prosecutor Milana Digajeva’s claim. “The sentence must be served in a so-called high-security prison,” the judges maintain.

the retired border inspector received the strict judgment handcuffed, wearing a black suit and white shirt.

“He kept a straight face and was not surprised,” according to his defence lawyers, Brynjulf Risnes and Ilja Novikov.

“Frode Berg is a master in keeping his hopes up,” Risnes explains.

Berg has already spent 496 days in custody.

Berg won’t appeal the verdict

Berg has decided not to appeal the verdict, which could delay a possible pardon. Novikov suggests that it may happen as early as May. That is dependent on a political solution between the Norwegian and Russian authorities, the two defence lawyers emphasize.

“I expect the Norwegian authorities to do everything they can. But I do not think it is not down to willingness, but ability. A pardon from the Russian president (Putin) will require a political solution,” Risnes continues.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says to NTB that they work along several tracks to get Frode Berg home.

“We work in different ways to safeguard his interests in the best possible way. Norwegian authorities want Frode Berg to return to Norway,” Communications Manager at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ane Haavardsdatter Lunde, tells NTB.

The defenders will send an application for pardon as soon as the verdict is enforceable. According to Novikov, a rejection of the application is the worst case scenario.

Believes application for pardon will be rejected

“Then Berg can be transferred to a prison camp in Siberia. It is difficult to survive the actual transport,” he fears.

“That is a risk at the beginning, intelligence expert Ole Kaldager concurs. He led the Norwegian intelligence group E14 for ten years.

“Russia has had so much prestige in this case, with the trial and all. They are not just going to send him home now,” Kaldager tells NTB.

“It won’t entail that they can’t pardon him later,” he adds. Kaldager estimates that it can take up to a year before it will happen.

He believes Russian authorities need to mark that they do not accept espionage, but that it may be that they will use Berg’s state of health as a reason to extradite him to Norway. Berg has problems with the heart, among other issues.

 


 

Penance

But the Norwegian authorities must offer Russia something to get Berg extradited, Kaldager believes:

“There will be a lot of penance on the part of Norway. The Norwegian authorities will probably have kow-tow several times”.

Berg’s supporters, in turn, ask the Norwegian authorities to do whatever it takes to get Berg home.

“It is a strict verdict. We were, however, dependent on a judgment to get on with the case,” concludes Øystein Hansen of the support group.

“It is tragic that it is Frode who is in a cage in Moscow and gets a verdict of 14 years – when it is Norwegian intelligence that is responsible,” journalist and author, Trine Hamran, tells NTB. Hamran is a good friend of Berg.

“Such a strict judgment also makes you more curious about what Russia really envisages as a solution,” she ponders.

She claims that it was the Norwegian Intelligence Service that pushed Berg to take on the fateful mission in Russia in December 2017.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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