An Estonian security official has been sentenced to fifteen years in a Russian jail for ‘spying’. The court said Eston Kohver also smuggled weapons
An Estonian security official has been sentenced to fifteen years in a Russian jail for ‘spying’.
The court said Eston Kohver also smuggled weapons and illegally crossed into Russia; judges decided to fine him the equivalent of 1,380 euros in addition to his prison sentence.
Prosecutors said he had been detained in September on Russian territory during an undercover operation.
Kohver, a border guard with his country’s domestic security service, denies all the charges.
The Estonian government says he was arrested inside Estonia at gunpoint whilst investigating cross-border crime.
Marina Kaljurand, Estonian foreign minister, said the whole process leading up to his sentencing had been “unlawful.
“We will continue to call for the release of Eston Kohver,” she told Estonian television. “We will do it ourselves, we will do it with our partners.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Russia to free Kohver, saying his “abduction” violated international law.
“The EU continues to call on the Russian Federation to act according to its international obligations, release Mr Kohver immediately and guarantee his safe return to Estonia,” Mogherini said in a statement.
Kohver’s case comes at a time of increased tensions between the two countries.
EU and NATO member Estonia, occupied by the Soviet Union for five decades, has long accused Russia of wanting to destabilise the Baltic region, something which Moscow denies.
Officials in Tallinn believe Kohver’s arrest last September was deliberately timed to coincide with a visit by US President Barack Obama two days later.
Obama spoke in the Estonian capital on September 3 to show NATO’s commitment to protect the Baltic region’s security.