Mogherini: EU urges Russia to immediately release jailed Estonian official

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The European Union is calling on Russia to act according to its international obligations, immediately release the Estonian security official Eston Kohver sentenced to 15 years in jail by a Russian court on Wednesday and guarantee his safe return to Estonia, the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Wednesday.

A court in the Russian northwestern regional capital Pskov on Wednesday sentenced Kohver to 15 years in jail and fined him 100,000 euros (EUR 1,375). The court found Kohver's guilt to be proven in espionage, illegal border-crossing, possession of a firearm and smuggling of a firearm.

The prosecutor had sought a 16-year jail sentence for Kohver. The Estonian security official pleaded not guilty.

«Today, almost one year after the abduction of Estonian police officer Eston Kohver by the Russian Security Services on Estonian territory, the Pskov Oblast's regional court rendered a verdict against him. The conviction carries a sentence of 15 years imprisonment,» the statement by Mogherini reads.   

«Mr Kohver's abduction and subsequent illegal detention in Russia constitute a clear violation of international law. Moreover, from the very beginning, Mr Kohver has been deprived of the right to a fair trial: there was no public hearing of the case, the Estonian consul was not allowed to be present at the hearings and Mr Kohver was deprived of adequate legal aid,» the statement says, adding that despite repeated requests, the Russian authorities have failed to resolve the issue. «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.»

ISS said on Sept. 5, 2014 that a member of their staff had been deprived of his freedom on Estonian territory near the checkpoint of Luhamaa on the Estonian-Russian border and taken to Russia by unidentified individuals coming from Russia at 9 a.m. that morning. The security agent, who was performing his official functions related to the prevention of cross-border crime, was taken to Russia at gunpoint using physical force. The abduction was preceded by interference of operational radio communication and use of a smoke grenade from the direction of Russia, ISS said.

Kohver was held in the Lefortovo prison of Moscow until his transfer to Pskov for the trial.

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