23:11 GMT +322 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The office of Lithuanian President said on Friday that he had pardoned two Russian citizens, convicted of espionage. Lithuanian media have claimed that Norway, Lithuania and Russia are preparing an exchange of espionage-charged persons. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has refuted these claims as political speculations.

    The plea for mercy of Norwegian national Frode Berg, convicted in Russia on espionage charges, will be studied quite soon, Sergey Belyaev, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second European Department, said in an interview.

    "He has submitted a plea for mercy, and it certainly will be studied, I believe, in a not-so-far perspective," Belyaev said. "This is a legal process, which proceeds as it should, and no outside additional factors influence this. The [Russian] president [Vladimir Putin] will take the decision then".

    When asked whether the trilateral exchange was possible, Belyaev stressed that only the possibility to grant pardon was being discussed.

    "In this case, I think the matter of granting pardon will be studied exactly as pardon. To what extent some other options are possible? I am not aware of it anyway", the diplomat noted.

    Berg, a retired Norwegian border agent, was detained in Moscow in late 2017 upon receiving documents that contained classified information concerning the Russian Navy. Last April, a Russian court sentenced him to 14 years in a high-security prison on espionage charges. Berg has denied the charges, while his lawyer has said that he might have been used as a carrier for the classified documents by intelligence officers without being aware of it.

    spy, Norway, plea, Russia
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