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Norway’s Crown Prince Couple possibly involved in Norwegian-Russian spy exchange

Norway’s Crown Prince Couple, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, reportedly could have been involved in an ongoing spy case that has affected Norwegian-Russian relations. This was reported by Norwegian state television NRK on Thursday evening. The case began in December 2017 when the Norwegian spy Frode Berg was arrested in Russia. The FSB, who arrested him, believed he was affiliated with Norway’s Intelligence Service and the American CIA.

Berg was taken to Lefortovo prison. Following a trial, Berg was convicted as a spy and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Norway has repeatedly denied that Berg was a spy, although Berg himself claims he was on assignment from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry related to obtaining drawings of Russian submarines.

A few months ago, it became known that Berg is likely to be pardoned and released along with two Lithuanian spies in exchange for two Russian spies imprisoned in Lithuania. Last year, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited Marit Lithuania, an ally of Norway trough NATO. The Crown Prince then stated that Lithuania was a “close ally and partner”.

The Crown Prince Couple and Norwegian politicians then held extensive talks with the Lithuanian president possibly to establish a collaboration to release Frode Berg. It has since become known that Norway may have lowered the bill to the Lithuanian state for their order of Norwegian air defence systems. The Crown Prince Couple and the Norwegian delegation to Lithuania should also have brought an EEA contribution to the nation of one billion Norwegian crowns during the 2018 visit.

It is possible that through this Norway has paid Lithuania for including the Norwegian spy in an exchange of prisoners with Russia. The Lithuanian president ratified a law Thursday morning that makes the exchange possible. The spy exchanges are expected to take place within two weeks. Neither the Norwegian Royal House, the Foreign Ministry or the authorities in Lithuania want to comment on the matter. Russian authorities have stated that they are working to find a solution.

Also, on 25 October of this year, His Majesty King Harald met with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in the northern Norwegian city of Kirkenes. The last time the two met was in 2014. The meeting took place in connection with commemorations for the 75th anniversary of Soviet forces liberating parts of Finnmark in northern Norway from German occupation. It is speculated that Frode Berg was the subject of political discussions during this meeting, as well. However, nothing is confirmed.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written six books on historical subjects and more than 1.500 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.