Russia imprisons Estonian police officer for espionage

Russian court sentences Estonian policeman Eston Kohver to 15 years in jail for espionage

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Estonia's President Toomas Hendrik shakes hands with policeman Eston Kohver during a state ceremony in Tallin in 2010

Updated Aug 20, 2015

An Estonian police officer named Eston Kohver, allegedly arrested by Russia during a cross-border raid, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday. The incident increased tensions between Moscow and its NATO-member neighbour

Kohver is charged with spying, possessing weapons and illegally crossing the border, his court-appointed lawyer, Yevgeny Aksyonov, told AFP.

Russia arrested Eston Kohver in September last year, saying he was caught on Russian territory, however Tallin claims he was taken at gunpoint at a border crossing.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said on Twitter,"I strongly condemn the verdict on Eston Kohver; his illegal detention constitutes a grave violation of international law by the Russian Federation."

The European Union also said Kohver's detention in Russia was illegal and called for his release.

"Mr Kohver has been deprived of the right to a fair trial: there was no public hearing of the case," EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Estonian and European Union diplomats gathered to protest the conviction outside the Pskov regional court where Kohver’s lawyer announced Kohver would serve his sentence in a Russian labour camp and will be fined 100,000 roubles ($1,525), Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

"Together with our allies and partners, we intend to keep up international pressure until Eston Kohver is released and has returned home to his family," Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand said in a statement.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said Kohver was detained carrying a Taurus handgun with ammunition, 5,000 euros ($5,500) in cash, special equipment for concealed audio recording and documents that "bear evidence of an intelligence mission."

According to Tallin’s claims Kohver was arrested while he was trying to stop illegal activities on the border when unidentified abductors jammed radio communications and used smoke grenades to capture him.

The Russian border in recent years has seen a number of events involving the smuggling of goods, weapons and migrants.

TRTWorld and agencies