Not even the defense attorney for former Norwegian border inspector Frode Berg thinks Berg will be acquitted on the espionage charges he faces in Moscow. Now fears are rising that Berg will not only be convicted by a Russian court but also sent to a prison in Siberia.
“Acquittal in this case is probably an illusion,” Berg’s Norwegian attorney Brynjulf Risnes told newspaper Aftenposten heading into the New Year holiday weekend. The paper reported that not a single person charged and indicted for spying has been acquitted since the start of the new millennium.
Risnes said the investigation into Berg’s case “will probably go on for half a year,” with all information classified. Not even his trial will be open to the public. Berg’s Russian defense attorney, Ilja Novikov, thinks the only realistic hope for Berg is to be able to serve his sentence in a Norwegian prison, if he’s convicted, or some other form of a diplomatic solution.
Berg, who retired from his job as an inspector along the Russian-Norwegian border, had told his family in Kirkenes that he was setting off on what was supposed to be a short pre-Christmas trip to Moscow for shopping and to visit art galleries. He flew alone to Moscow on December 4 with a return ticket on December 6.
On December 5, however, he was arrested in front of the famed Bolshoi Ballet theater while carrying EUR 3,000 in cash and two letters he’d been asked to deliver to an acquaintance in Norway. The Russians claim Berg was part of a spy network and that he was sending money and instructions to a Russian citizen who works for a foreign intelligence agency. Berg has denied the charges, and claims he was trapped.