13 Mar 2018 13:22

Moscow City Court upholds arrest of suspected Norwegian spy Berg

MOSCOW. March 13 (Interfax) - The Moscow City Court has upheld as lawful the extended arrest of Norwegian citizen Frode Berg, who has been charged with spying in Russia, a court representative told Interfax on Tuesday.

"The judgment of Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court has been upheld," the representative said.

The court dismissed the request from Berg's defense that he be released from custody. He will remain under arrest until May 5.

Russian security services detained Berg near a hotel in Moscow on December 5, 2017. The Lefortovsky District Court ordered his arrest the next day.

Berg was charged with espionage. Detectives said he was mailing money to Russians recruited by a foreign intelligence service in exchange for military secrets.

Berg pleaded not guilty to all charges and said that he sent the mail at the request of his acquaintance from Oslo, who said that "the addressee needed money badly," Berg's lawyer Ilya Novikov said.

"Berg did not know he could be part of an intelligence operation. The letters were sent to a Natalia woman in Moscow. He [Berg] was surprised at the way the money was sent but did not expect to be exposed to any risk," the lawyer said.

Detectives do not suspect Berg of working for the CIA, Novikov said. "Berg is only suspected of working for the intelligence service of his home county, Norway," he said.

Detectives do not think that Berg learned or was supposed to learn any important secrets, Novikov said.

Berg denied being acquainted with another defendant in the proceeding, Russian citizen Alexei Zhitnyuk, who, according to detectives, supplied Berg with secrets of the Russian Navy, Novikov said.

He said it is not impossible that his client is the victim of a provocation.