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Russia Accuses Norwegian Man Of Nuclear Submarine Espionage


Norwegian national Frode Berg in a Moscow courtroom on January 30.
Norwegian national Frode Berg in a Moscow courtroom on January 30.

MOSCOW -- A Norwegian man on trial on espionage charges in Russia is accused of acquiring classified information on nuclear-powered submarines, prosecutors say.

Speaking as Frode Berg's trial began in Moscow on April 2, Prosecutor Milana Digayeva said that the accused was caught red-handed with the documents he had received from an employee of a military facility who was shadowed by Russian intelligence.

The case is being heard behind closed doors at the Moscow City Court for secrecy reasons.

Berg, 63, pleaded not guilty.

The court prolonged Berg's pretrial detention until September 22.

Berg's Norwegian lawyer Brynjulf Risnes said that there was a "very great risk that he will be convicted," given the lack of acquittals in Russian spy cases in recent years.

Risnes, who is in Oslo awaiting permission from Russia to visit his client, told that AFP news agency that there was a risk Berg could face a jail term of 10 to 20 years.

Russian authorities have said Berg was arrested in December 2017. Media reports said at the time that he was caught with classified material he allegedly obtained from a Russian man identified as Aleksei Zhitnyuk.

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

Norwegian media reports said that Berg is a former border inspector, and that the Norwegian Foreign Ministry was working to provide him with assistance.

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.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Interfax, TASS, and Reuters.

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