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Russia Sentences Norwegian to 14 Years for Spying

Norwegian national Frode Berg, who is accused of spying on Russia, stands inside a glass cage in a court room in Moscow, Russia, April 16, 2019. A Moscow court has found Berg guilty of espionage and sentenced him to 14 years in a high-security prison.

A Russian court has sentenced a Norwegian citizen to 14 years in prison over spying following a trial behind closed doors.

Russian authorities say Frode Berg, a retired border inspector, was detained in Moscow in December 2017 following a sting operation by Russia's FSB security service. Berg, 63, was accused by the prosecution of espionage relating to Russia's nuclear submarines.

The trial was held behind closed doors at the Moscow City Court for secrecy reasons.

On April 9, prosecutor Milana Digayeva demanded that Berg serve the sentence in a penal colony.

Digayeva said the accused was caught red-handed with the documents he had received from an employee of a military facility– Aleksei Zhitnyuk – who was shadowed by Russian intelligence.

Zhitnyuk was found guilty of high treason in December and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Berg's lawyers have said that he admitted being a courier for Norway's military intelligence, but that he had little knowledge of the operation he took part in.

A lawyer for Berg said on April 16 that his client will not appeal the sentence but will submit a plea for pardon after it comes into force.

Asked about a possible pardon for Berg, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that he would wait for the verdict before assessing a possible plea.

Norwegian media reports said that Berg is a former border inspector.