2021.06.23 10:20

Lithuanian man on espionage trial says he was ‘brainwashed’ by Russian agents

BNS2021.06.23 10:20

Deimantas Bertauskas, a Vilnius businessman standing trial together with Algirdas Paleckis, a former politician, on espionage charges has admitted guilt and apologised.

"It's important to admit mistakes and not to repeat them. I'm charged with crimes against Lithuania. My price is very high, but I [...] do feel relieved now that I've made my confession to law-enforcement officers," Bertauskas told the court on Tuesday.

The defendant said that Paleckis and he knew what they were doing, adding that he had no intention of incriminating anyone in his testimony.

"I had to tell the truth, whatever it was. I thank God, because I don’t know where my irresponsible behavior could have led to," Bertauskas said. "I had been brainwashed by the Russian security services."

"It's time to decide whose side you're on. I've decided: I'm on the side of Lithuania," he added.

Bertauskas asked the court to release him from criminal liability for espionage.

The court is due to deliver its judgement on July 27.

Read more: Former politician accused of spying for Russia to be released on bail

Paleckis and Bertauskas are standing trial on charges of spying for a foreign country in an organised group. The former politician denies any wrongdoing, saying he was conducting a journalistic investigation.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, the defendants, acting in an organised group with a Russian intelligence officer and other Russian citizens, including one found guilty in the January 13, 1991 crackdown case, allegedly collected information of interest for Russian intelligence in Lithuania between February 2017 and October 2018 for monetary and other remuneration.

"Other remuneration" included assistance in establishing contacts with representatives of a Russian political party to secure funding for one of the political parties registered in Lithuania, as well as assistance in establishing business ties.

Prosecutors say the defendants were also tasked with collecting information on officers and judges who worked on the January 13 case in Lithuania, and on other cases related to Soviet aggression in Lithuania in 1990–1991.

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