The Estonian police officer Eston Kohver has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Pskov regional court in Russia. ’This is a deeply disturbing development and I reiterate the call for Eston Kohver’s immediate release and safe return to Estonia,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
On 5 September 2014, Eston Kohver was abducted on Estonian territory and subsequently illegally detained in Russia. Norway has repeatedly called for Mr. Kohver’s immediate release and safe return to Estonia. Russian authorities have failed to solve the issue.
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 did not have access to adequate legal aid.
Kohver was abducted on 5 September 2014 at gunpoint from the Estonian side of the border by Russians using a smoke grenade and radio jammers, while Russia insists that Kohver had crossed the border, and had €5,000, a pistol, “special equipment to carry out covert recording”, and “materials that seem to be assignments for an intelligence-gathering mission”. The Estonian Internal Security Service confirmed that Kohver was carrying his service pistol, cash and recording equipment in his task of investigating cross border crime and smuggling. He was due to meet a possible informant on the border as part of the investigation, but instead walked into a trap set up by the FSB. The incident occurred about 8 km north of the border crossing at Luhamaa, in a secluded and forested area near the village of Miikse. The defense lawyer appointed by the Russian state to represent Eston Kohver claims that the FSB has thorough video recordings on Kohver crossing the border.
In January 2015 Estonian media speculated that Kohver may have been captured to force Estonian government to exchange him for a Federal Security Service spy Aleksei Dressen convicted in 2012.