The Norwegian Frode Berg is sentenced to 14 years in prison for espionage in Russia. He is now going to ask President Vladimir Putin for mercy.
The sentence must be served in a high-security prison, according to the court in Moscow. The approximately 500 days he has been detained are deducted from the penalty.
Berg accepts the verdict and will not appeal, according to his lawyer Ilja Nonvikov. It will gain legal force by the end of April.
– Only then can Berg apply for pardon, says Nonvikov to NRK.
For years, the 63-year-old Berg had been a well-known figure in the Russian-Norwegian border area, taking an active role in cultural and humanitarian exchange projects.
Berg’s lawyer, Ilya Novikov, told the Interfax news agency that he and his client “do not see any point in” appealing the verdict but instead would submit a plea for a presidential pardon.
The retired border guard was arrested in an operation performed by the FSB security service on 5 December 2017 in Moscow. He then had 3,000 euros (about SEK 30,000) in cash.
The prosecutor claims that the 63-year-old Berg was spying on Russia’s nuclear submarines, reports AFP.
Frode Berg has acknowledged contacts with the Norwegian intelligence service, and that he has handed over money in the Russian capital at addresses he received from contacts in Norway. But Berg says he has not understood that this would be part of spying.
Both the Norwegian government and the intelligence service have been very fond of the case.
According to Nonvikov, successful diplomatic efforts are now required for his client to be pardoned.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited Russia last week and then met Putin. On questions from journalists after the meeting, the Russian President did not exclude a pardon from Berg, but emphasized that it must first fall into judgment.
“It’s a good sign that Putin himself mentioned the case,” Nonvikov said before Tuesday’s verdict