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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Seizes Norwegians' Equipment




Russian security agents recently confiscated satellite position finders from two Norwegians, equipment similar to that used by an American accused of spying, officials said Wednesday.


The Norwegians, who also said they were helping develop a cellular telephone network in southern Russia, were not taken into custody, said a spokesman for the Federal Security Service, or FSB.


The equipment, developed for the U.S. Air Force, was capable of determining an object's geographical coordinates within 15 to 20 meters and could be used for high-precision missile homing, spokesman Vladimir Gusev said, according to Interfax.


The Norwegians, whose names were not released, worked for the communications company Telenor Invest, which has offices in Krasnodar, about 1,200 kilometers south of Moscow, Itar-Tass reported. They were traveling with two Russian employees when they were pulled over by traffic police on Nov. 22, it said, citing regional FSB officials.


The Norwegians were released the same day after submitting written explanations for having the equipment, which could be used for determining geographical coordinates with the assistance of global navigation satellite systems and portable computers, Itar-Tass said.


The intelligence agency was still studying the information recorded in the confiscated equipment.


Richard Bliss, an American telecommunications engineer, was arrested Nov. 25 for having similar equipment and formally charged with espionage.


After coming under heavy U.S. government pressure, the FSB freed Bliss from jail Saturday on a written guarantee from his U.S. employer that he would stay in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, where he was arrested, and be available for questioning.