Frode Berg convicted of handing over €15,000 to a Russian contact
Frode Berg was in April convicted of handing over €15,000 to a Russian contact. This means that several money transfers may have been made, NRK reports.
NRK has been granted access to parts of the verdict against Frode Berg. Berg is sentenced for having sent, or handed over, the money in connection with collecting secret material in Russia, according to that. The recipient is supposedly a Russian contact of the Norwegian Intelligence Service.
The retired border inspector, Fode Berg, was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for espionage by the Moscow City Court in mid-April. He has been imprisoned for 550 days in Russia thus far.
It has previously been known that the 63-year-old carried €3,000 in cash when he was arrested by the Russian security service FSB during a visit to Moscow on December 5th, 2017. This may indicate that Frode Berg has sent or handed over €3,000 five times. This money accrues to the Russian state.
Berg has admitted that he has taken on several assignments for the Norwegian Intelligence Service as a pensioner, but claims that it was purely as a courier, not an active collection of information.
Most of the verdict that fell on April 16 is secret. In connection with the trial in Moscow it, however, emerged that the Russian public prosecutor, on behalf of the FSB, links the Norwegian to an intelligence operation. The aim of which was to collect information about the development of submarines for the Russian Navy.
Thus, there is much indicating that what the Norwegian Intelligence Service believed to be a successful operation to extract information on the construction of nuclear submarines in Severodvinsk (the White Sea), was controlled by the Russian Counter-intelligence Service from the word go.
It is informed about various objects and possessions that are seized from Frode Berg in connection with the transfer in the extract from the verdict. These are envelopes containing memory sticks, CDs, partial prints, electronic tickets, boarding cards, business cards and key cards, according to NRK.
It is further stated that Berg’s mobile phone, note pad, camera, ballpoint pen, medicine folder and gloves are handed over to the Russian security service FSB. His Norwegian passport and his bank and bonus cards are, however, returned to him.
Hasn’t applied for a pardon
After the verdict fell and later became enforceable, it was expected that his Norwegian and Russian defenders would send an application for a pardon to President Vladimir Putin. Putin has still not received any such application, Norwegian TV2 reports.
“In this case, we have a person who has ended up in prison because of a spy case involving Norway and Russia. The procedures are accordingly. There is thus no point in applying before it is known that an agreement has been negotiated,” the Norwegian lawyer representing Berg, Brynjulf Risnes, tells VG.
“An application for pardon is purely a formality in this setting. The question is whether Norway and Russia have come to an agreement. Which they, to my knowledge, haven’t” he continues.
Frode Berg’s lawyers have previously stated that a pardon from Putin is probably the only possibility for the Norwegian to be released. At a meeting – between Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) and Putin in St. Petersburg in April – this possibility was not dismissed.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has, for the first time, admit that Norway and Russia have talked about the matter, according to TV2.
Frode Berg isn’t faring well
Brynjulf Risnes welcomes the fact that there is contact at the highest level. He also considers it positive that Berg is still imprisoned in Moscow instead of being transferred to a prison camp elsewhere in Russia (read: Siberia).
“We believe that is a sign that negotiations are in progress and that a solution can be forthcoming,” he explains.
This week, Frode Berg’s wife Anita spoke to her husband for the first time in more than two months.
“Frode is tired and, understandably, not faring well,” writes Anita Berg in a text message to NRK.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today