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Russia, Estonia swap spies

September 26, 2015

Russia and Estonia have swapped spies in a cross-border exchange. Russia's arrest of Estonian security official Eston Kohver drew criticism from the EU and US.

Eston Kohver
Image: picture alliance/dpa

Estonian security official Eston Kohver, who was convicted of espionage in Russia, has been exchanged for imprisoned Russian spy Aleksei Dressen.

Kohver was sentenced in August to 15 years in prison in a trial condemned by Estonia, the EU and US. Estonia claimed he was abducted at gunpoint in Estonian territory in September last year.

In return, Estonia handed over Dressen, a former security police officer who was convicted in 2012 to 16 years in prison for spying and passing on classified information to Russia.

The border exchange at a bridge crossing the Piusa River comes as Russian president Vladimir Putin is set to address the UN General Assembly on Monday.

In a Twitter post Kohver's lawyer Mark Feigin said the exchange was "organized on the political level."

"It's all happening ahead of Putin's visit to the UN tomorrow. There are no other reasons," Feigin wrote.

Tensions have risen between Russia and the former Soviet Baltic states, which have ethnic Russian minorities, amid concern over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

cw/bk (AP, AFP)

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