Russia to decide ‘soon’ on pardon for Norwegian spy

Russia to decide 'soon' on pardon for Norwegian spy
Frode Berg during his trial in Moscow earlier this year. Photo: AFP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday he expected Moscow to decide soon on a pardon requested by a retired Norwegian border guard jailed for spying.

Frode Berg, 64, was detained in Moscow in 2017 after a sting operation by Russia's FSB security service.

In April 2019, he was found guilty of spying on Russia's nuclear submarines and sentenced to 14 years in a strict-regime penal colony.

Berg admitted to acting several times as a courier for the Norwegian intelligence service but said he thought he was only carrying money, and denied the espionage charge.

“Berg was convicted of the charge of espionage. He has applied for a pardon. It is being considered, I hope it won't take long,” Lavrov told reporters.

He was speaking in the northern Norwegian town of Kirkenes — Berg's hometown — on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet liberation of the Norwegian far north.

According to news agency Interfax, a Russian commission has recommended that Berg receive a presidential pardon. Berg's lawyer has refused to comment on the report.

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