Spy swap: 5 freed in Russia-Lithuania-Norway change

Norwegian Frode Berg, sentenced by Moscow for spying on its nuclear submarines, 2019Picture copyright
Getty Photographs

Picture caption

Frode Berg, sentenced to 14 years in jail, admitted working with Norwegian intelligence


Two Russians jailed for espionage have been pardoned and freed in Lithuania, in change for 2 Lithuanians and a Norwegian held in Russia.

Lithuania’s head of state safety introduced the three-way swap had taken place on the Lithuanian border after a fancy operation.


For weeks, Norway, Russia and Lithuania have been engaged on the change.

The very best recognized of the 5 is Frode Berg, a Norwegian ex-border guard arrested in Moscow in 2017.

His case grew to become a trigger celebre in Norway after he was discovered with naval paperwork handed to him by a former Russian policeman.

Russians Nikolai Filipchenko and Sergei Moisejenko have been jailed in Lithuania two years in the past.

The Lithuanians, Yevgeny Mataitis and Aristidas Tamosaitis, have been jailed in 2016. Lithuania was a former Soviet republic however since independence in 1990 has joined the EU and Nato.

How did the change occur?

Berg’s lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, revealed on Twitter that the Norwegian was “lastly free” after crossing from Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave bordering Lithuania. “I am in Lithuania and ready to satisfy him quickly,” he added.

The switch passed off at noon (10:00 GMT), in response to Lithuanian intelligence head Darius Jauniskis informed reporters. The international ministry in Oslo confirmed Berg was in Norwegian fingers and stated he would return to Norway to be reunited along with his household.

Lithuanian studies stated the 2 Russians and two Lithuanians have been a part of the identical change.

Mr Jauniškis, head of Lithuania’s SSD state safety, stated solely that the swap had taken place at one of many nation’s border management posts and paid tribute to the intelligence officers who had deliberate and carried out the operation.

How the swap was ready

Speak of a three-way change first surfaced final month when Moscow’s official pardons fee advisable the Norwegian for pardon and Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Norway and promised a choice would come quickly.

The method was then placed on maintain for a number of weeks for Lithuania’s parliament to vary the felony code to permit the president to pardon the 2 Russian spies.

Lithuania’s state defence council, which is chaired by the president, then authorized the swap final week, in response to Baltic Information Service.

Early on Friday Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda introduced the 2 males had been pardoned. It was a sign that the operation was underneath method and the top of Russia’s SVR international intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, stated “reciprocal measures” would happen.

Russia ‘set for pardon’ in Norwegian spy case

Who’re the 5 concerned?

Russians: Nikolai Filipchenko – FSB safety service agent was given 10 years for making an attempt to recruit senior Lithuanians; Sergei Moisejenko was given 10 years for recruiting a Lithuanian military officer serving at Siauliai army base.

Norwegian: Frode Berg – retired border guard admitted appearing as a courier for Norwegian intelligence however denied spying.

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Media captionNorway’s Spy City: ‘They took him and so they have damaged him’

Lithuanians: Ex-naval officer Yevgeny Mataitis is a twin Russian-Lithuanian citizen who served within the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. He was given 13 years for promoting secrets and techniques to Lithuanian intelligence.

The place do spy swaps happen?

Through the Chilly Struggle, exchanges passed off on the Glienicke Bridge between East and West Berlin.

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Media captionThis 2015 change passed off on a bridge over the Piusa River between Estonia and Russia

Because the finish of the Chilly Struggle, spy swaps have turn into uncommon occasions. The final large one, in 2010, passed off at Vienna airport, when 10 Russian brokers have been flown in from the US and swapped for 4 Individuals convicted in Russia.

However there have been smaller swaps on a bridge between Russia and Estonia. In 2015, an Estonian safety official who the EU stated was kidnapped by Russia was swapped for a person imprisoned in Estonia for spying for Moscow.

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