On Monday, 47-year-old Russian citizen Andrei Jakunin was arrested in Hammerfest. He had just arrived in mainland Norway after a trip to Svalbard.
The man, who is the son of Russian oligarch Vladimir Yakunin, was accused of illegally filming with a drone, including in Svalbard, and was held for two weeks. The Russian is said to have flown a drone and photographed several locations in Norway from July to October.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine and war broke out there, Russian citizens have been banned from flying and filming with drones in Norway.
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The 47-year-old admitted that he filmed with a drone in Svalbard, but described the trip he took as an adventurous trip and an expedition on a boat.
The man also mentioned that he considers himself British, which is somewhat because he has dual citizenship. In the ruling, Pfister Finnmark District Court noted that the 47-year-old nevertheless traveled on his Russian, not British, passport.
The 47-year-old’s father, Vladimir Yakunin, is referred to by many as someone with connections to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. It has also been included in US and UK sanctions lists.
The news about the imprisoned son of the oligarch did not stop at the borders of Norway. In the United States, too, they absorbed the drone incident.
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This is what the ex-CIA chief thinks
TV channel CNN He spoke with former CIA chief Stephen L. Hole. He led CIA operations in Russia for more than 30 years until he resigned in 2015.
He lists two possible alternatives to what the 47-year-old Russian did in Svalbard:
– I suppose it could be that this guy flew his drone for fun, and managed to fly into restricted Norwegian airspace by mistake, Hall tells the channel and continues:
– It is also very likely that he did this on behalf of Russia. His father, Vladimir Yakunin, is not only a prominent ruler, but also a former KGB agent who is very close to Putin, says the former CIA official.
Hall says he often works in Russia the way volunteers sign up for service and approve tasks such as flying a drone over a relevant area.
– Perhaps they will then obtain valuable information that they can return to the authorities, who can then evaluate the information, he says and points out:
“To me, that seems more likely than that person would be out enjoying driving a drone,” Hall concludes.
Police acknowledge that: – We have limited ability to shut down drones
The 47-year-old Russian, who lives in Italy, has appealed the verdict in Wester Finnmark district court for two weeks. The man’s defender, John Christian Elden, told NTB that the appeal will likely be processed over the weekend.
In a statement to the media on Wednesday, Yakunin defender Elden wrote that his client had agreed to provide his name.
– The name is already used internationally. Elden wrote that those who know who he is also know about his critical stances, so he hopes this helps understand just how misunderstood prison is.
According to Jakunin’s press team, he must have been interested in nature, photography and extreme sports. They say he used a drone during a vacation trip to Svalbard in late August.
To Dagbladet, attorney John Christian Elden said the British Embassy had also chosen to assist the accused.
– We also get help from the British Embassy in this matter with the help of a consulate for its citizen, writes Elden in an SMS to Daily newspaper.
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