EU urges Russia to free detained Estonian security officer

Story highlights

  • Estonia says Eston Kohver was abducted; Russia says he was detained on Russian soil
  • EU official: His abduction and detention "constitute a clear violation of international law"

(CNN)European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has called on Russia to release an Estonian security officer that she and Estonia say was abducted on Estonian soil last year.

Security officer Eston Kohver has been illegally detained for almost a year and now faces a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment after he was convicted in a Russian court Wednesday, Mogherini said in a statement.
    The Russians have a different view. They say that Kohver was detained in Russia's northwest Pskov region, where they allege he was carrying out an undercover operation, according to state-run news agency ITAR-Tass. He was charged in September with espionage.
    "Mr. Kohver's abduction and subsequent illegal detention in Russia constitute a clear violation of international law," Mogherini said.
    "Moreover, from the very beginning, Mr. Kohver has been deprived of the right to a fair trial: 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."
    Mogherini said the Russian authorities had failed to resolve the issue despite repeated requests, and she called on Moscow to live up to its international obligations and free Kohver immediately.