Captured Estonian intelligence official Eston Kohver (photo: YouTube)
Estonia says Russia has pressured captured Estonian intelligence official Eston Kohver to drop his high profile lawyers.
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.
Estonian officials earlier appointed famous Russian lawyers Mark Fegin and Nikolai Polozov to defend his case. The lawyers became famous after defending Russian punk group Pussy Riot.
But Estonia's Foreign minster Urmas Paet has now now accused Russia of meddling with the criminal case after Kohver waived his lawyers.
“Russia's actions in abducting Eston Kohver from Estonia to Russia and holding him in custody in a Moscow jail are contrary to international law,” Paet said, cited by the Postimees newspaper.
“We are grateful to Mark Feigin and Nikolai Polozov for their expertise in dealing with the Eston Kohver case.
We demand the return of Eston Kohver to Estonia,” he added.
The foreign minister said that Kohver’s decision to waive the attorneys appointed by Estonia and to continue with counsel appointed by Russia is unfortunate and it is clear, that Kohver is not free in making his choices.
Paet said that the situation is complex, but Estonia has many allies and friends who understand us well and support us. “
"In the court tomorrow, things will become clear; currently the information has been received via the investigator," Paet added
Paet said that Estonia continues to apply for a new meeting between Kohver and the Estonian consul.