Frode Berg, the retired Norwegian border inspector who’s charged with espionage in Moscow, was ordered held in prison for another two months on Wednesday. His earliest release date has now been set for October 5.
Norwegian journalists in Moscow were allowed to speak with Berg for a few minutes before Wednesday’s custody hearing began. He seemed more optimistic than he has in earlier court sessions, where he often has been reduced to tears.
“I think the investigation into the case wil be finished before October,” Berg’s Russian attorney Ilja Novikov told reporters. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Berg himself said he didn’t want to say more, but that he was “beginning to see an end to all this.”
Berg was arrested early last December during a weekend trip to Moscow from his home in Kirkenes, and charged with delivering documents that track Russian fleet movements in the Arctic. Berg claims he was duped into being an alleged courier by Norwegian intelligence agents.
Novikov said there was a good chance Berg’s case would come up in court before the end of the year, in November or December. Then he’ll face two opportunities if he’s not ordered to serve to a lengthy jail term: He may be pardoned or he can be sent home to Norway in return for the release of a Russian agent. Norway currently has no Russian agents in custody who could be part of a swap, meaning a third country would have to get involved.
Norwegian authorities have mostly declined comment on Berg’s status, but Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide met with Berg’s wife and other family members and claimed they were doing all they could to help Berg. She would neither confirm nor deny the circumstances that led to Berg’s arrest. The Norwegian state is paying for Berg’s lawyers’ fees.