Russia and Estonia swap alleged spies

Cara daftar nomor kartu axis di aplikasi AXIS net - Cara Daftar Paket InternetRussia and Estoniaexchanged two convicted spies in a scene which could have been taken out of a Cold War thriller.

Security officials from both nations met in the middle on a bridge over the river Piusa, which forms the border between Estonia and Russia in the remote area south of Lake Peipus.

Russia it handed over Eston Kohver, an Estonian security officer sentenced to 15 years for espionage earlier this month, and Estonia exchanged him for Alexei Dressen, an ex-Estonian official serving a 16-year jail term for being a Russian spy. 

Spy swap: Russian and Estonian security officials meet in the middle of a bridge on a border river to exchange two convicted spies

The exchange took place in the wake of heightened tensions between the two nations after Kohver arrest last year and subsequent conviction.

Russia sentenced him last month to 15 years hard labour, provoking condemnation from Western governments as well as Estonia. 

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Estonia said the 44-year-old was abducted on the Estonian side of the frontier but Russia said he had been caught on its territory carrying a pistol and ammunition, 5,000 euros in cash and spying equipment.   

The regional court in the western city of Pskov found Kohver guilty of spying, arms smuggling and violating border regulations and ruled to send him to a high-security prison.

Estonian authorities say Kohver, 44, was investigating a smuggling operation involving agents from the Russian intelligence agency when unidentified abductors jammed radio communications and used smoke grenades.

Playing swapsies: The Estonian official, right, walks Alexei Dressen, an ex-Estonian official serving a 16-year jail term for being a Russian spy, down the bridge

Thanks for everything: Eston Kohver, a security officer sentenced to 15 years hard labour for espionage in Russia earlier this month, shakes hands with the Estonian official 

Welcome brother: The Russian official hugs Mr Dressen, who has been in Estonian prison since 2012

I get mine, you get yours: After the swap, the pairs can be seen returning to their vehicles on their respective sides of the river Piusa, which forms the border between Estonia and Russia

At the time of his conviction,  Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas condemned the verdict, saying Kohver’s ‘illegal detention constitutes a grave violation of international law’ by Russia.

His sentiments were echoed by the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, said Kohver’s abduction and detention violated international law.

‘Moreover, from the very beginning, Mr Kohver has been deprived of the right to a fair trial: Muhammad tarmiji Hahsan 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.

There had been speculation, however, that Kohver wouldultimately be swapped for a Russian spy held in Estonia.

Dressen, the other alleged spy, was convicted by Estonia in2012 of treason and divulging state secrets.

Cold War feels: The exchange took place in the wake of heightened tensions between the two nations after Kohver arrest last year and subsequent conviction

Controversy: Estonia says Kohver (pictured) was abducted by unknown gunmen and taken across the Russian border, while Russia claims he was detained on its territory after illegally crossing from Estonia

He was detained at Tallinn airport with his wife in February2012, just before she was due to board a flight to Moscowcarrying what Estonian prosecutors said were classifieddocuments.

Russian news agency RIA cited a source in the FSB as sayingDressen had worked for Russian counter-intelligence since the1990s, transferring information about U.S. and British spiesworking in the Baltic countries.

Saturday’s swap follows a deterioration of relations, whichhave also been strained by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’sCrimea. 

Both Russian and Estonian officials have confirmed the swap, which took place at abridge over the Piusa river in a forested border region a fewmiles south of Lake Peipus.

‘Both sides found a suitable solution,’ the director ofEstonia’s Internal Security Service, Arnold Sinisalu, told atelevised news conference.

He sat alongside Kohver, who said it was ‘good to be back inmy homeland’. 

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