EU calls for immediate release of captured Estonian secret agent in Russia

  • 2014-09-12
  • From wire reports, TALLINN

Eston Kohver was captured by members of Russia’s secret service FSB (photo: twitter)

EU leaders have called on Russia to immediately release Estonian Security Police (KaPo) official Eston Kohver captured in controversial and jailed in controversial circumstances last week.

Tallinn says Kohver, 44 was captured in Estonian territory last Friday by members of Russia's secret service FSB after investigating a case of cross border crime.

Moscow, however, say Kohver was carrying out espionage activities. Russian media showed video reports of Kohver being led to a detention center in Russia. A handgun, 5,000 euros of cash and a mission brief was found on Kohver at the time of his arrest.

The secret agent is now being held in a Moscow prison awaiting court proceedings. If found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison, his lawyers say.

In a statement, the European Union foreign service representative said the EU was "concerned by the abduction on September 5 of Estonian police officer Eston Kohver by the Russian Security Services on Estonian territory near the Estonian-Russian border."

"Such action by the Russian Federation runs against international law and the principle of inviolability of borders. The EU Delegation in Moscow has been in contact with the Russian authorities asking for a swift resolution to the matter. We call for an immediate release of Mr Kohver and his safe return to Estonia," the statement reads.

Baltic and Nordic foreign ministers have also condemned the arrest of Kohver. Speaking in Tallinn on Thursday, the foreign ministers said:

“Eston Kohver was taken by force to Russia and is being held in custody in Moscow,” the foreign ministers of Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Latvia, and Lithuania said in a joint statement.

"We call on Russia to immediately release Eston Kohver and ensure his safe return to Estonia,"

Meanwhile, Estonia has hired former Russian punk rock lawyers Mark Feigin to defined Kohver's case. Feigin claims procedural rules have been violated whilst the presence of an interpreter at interrogations has not been guaranteed and documents have not been translated that the detainee has the right to read in mother tongue.

Lawyers also haven’t seen evidence that Kohver was detained in the Russian territory, and they think that Russian authorities have the wish to declare Kohver guilty fast.

"This has happened very quickly. If we consider that the events, as I understand it, took place on September 5, they acted quickly," said Feigin.

"Rushing in this case refers to the fact that there is big desire at the investigation to quickly finish the procedures in order to prove the guilt of Mr Kohver quickly. I at least have not yet seen evidence that Kohver crossed the border. Compelling evidence about that I have not seen," he added.

Eston Kohver of Estonia's KaPo is led to a Russian detention center last week after being captured in controversial circumstances