Frode Berg, the retired Norwegian border inspector from Kirkenes, has been sitting in a Moscow jail for nearly 16 months, accused of spying for Norway. He finally has a court date, with his trial due to begin in Moscow on April 2.
Berg’s Russian defense attorney Ilja Novikov wrote on social media that the trial will be held in the Moscow City Court, but it won’t be open to the public or media coverage. A court spokesperson said that was because of national security concerns and because evidence will include discussion of classified material.
Berg was arrested during a weekend trip to Moscow just before Christmas in December 2017. He was seized outdoors in broad daylight, and charged with being involved in spying on Russian fleet movements in the north.
Berg, who has broken into tears several times during earlier court appearances, claims he was duped into carrying money and documents by someone from Norway’s military intelligence agency E-tjenesten. Berg, a longtime advocate of friendly relations between Norwegians and Russians in the border area around Kirkenes, has claimed he was in Moscow simply for a holiday weekend.
Norwegian govenrment officials have remained mostly mum regarding Berg’s predicament but have provided consular help. He faces up to 20 years in a Russian jail.