Lithuania votes paves way for large spy swap with Russia

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VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuanian lawmakers adopted a bill Thursday that is paving the way for a spy swap with neighboring Russia.

The exchange could include a Norwegian citizen serving a 14-year sentence for espionage in a Russian jail.

Lithuania’s parliament voted 76-2 to give the country’s president the right to pardon a convict involved in a spy swap deal.

Frode Berg, a 63-year-old retired Norwegian border inspector, was arrested in Moscow in December 2017 on espionage charges for collecting information about Russian nuclear submarines.

Prosecutors asserted that Berg was caught with documents he had received from an employee of a military facility who was shadowed by Russian intelligence.

Vilnius could hand over a man sentenced in 2017 by a Lithuanian court to 10 years in prison for spying for Russia’s main intelligence agency. In return, two Lithuanians who both were sentenced to 12 years in 2016 for spying in Russia could be released.

It wasn’t clear when or where a spy swap would take place.

The adopted bill must be signed by President Gitanas Nauseda who is currently visiting Italy. His office says he is expected to sign it Monday and a meeting of the panel which may pardon the Russian spy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Last month, an official Russian commission recommended a presidential pardon for Berg, saying the recommendation had been sent to President Vladimir Putin.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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