Norway has bumped up security at energy installations in the country after numerous drone sightings. The 50-year-old was ordered held in custody for two weeks.
A Norweigan court on Friday ordered a 50-year-old Russian national held in custody for two weeks as he admitted to flying two drones over the country, potentially over critical energy infrastructure.
In recent weeks, there have been numerous drone sightings near the country’s offshore oil and gas platforms.
Security has been ratcheted up following explosions that targeted gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last month.
What do we know about the suspect?
The identity of the Russian male was not made public, only that he was detained on Tuesday with three passports in his luggage, two Russian ones and one Israeli, according to local Norweigan media.
Authorities also seized four terabytes of data, some of it encrypted.
Customs officers reportedly located two drones and numerous electronic storage devices during a routine check at the border crossing in Storskog, the only border crossing between Norway, a NATO member, and Russia.
The border between Russia and Norway is 198 kilometers (123 miles) from Arctic land.
Prosecutor Anja Mikkelsen Indbjor told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the Russian man is suspected of violating sanctions that were put in effect following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Under the measure, Norway prohibits aircraft, including drones, operated by Russian nationals or companies “to land on, take off from or fly over Norwegian territory.”
The VG newspaper reported that the suspect told the Eastern Finnmark District Court in Vadso that he had been in Norway since August and flew the drones across the country.
Jens Bernhard Herstad, the defense attorney for the Russian national, has said his client acknowledged flying drones across Norway but has not told the court why he is in the country other than as a tourist on vacation.
Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said it was still “too early to draw conclusions.” After police review the seized material, charges against the Russian man could be expanded.
Enger Mehl told the broadcaster NRK, “It is known that we have an intelligence threat against us which has been reinforced by what is happening in Europe.”