Lawyers for Eston Kohver, the Estonian counterintelligence official held in Moscow, were able to meet with their client for the first time, but were guarded about the Monday meeting.
"I can say that his health condition is satisfactory, he had no complaints. I can't say anything more due to the oath and a pledge signed to investigators," said Nikolai Polozov, one of two prominent lawyers retained by the Estonian government for the official.
"I won't comment on some of the details. But no matter how things go, it will be a difficult case. Not just for Mr. Kohver personally but also in relations between states, for Estonia. It is a machine that we are facing and there aren't many advocates who are prepared to stand up against it," said Polozov's partner on the case, Mark Feigin.
"Before the meeting, we expressed our objections to his being in detention. The court will review them on Thursday. But before Thursday, developments could happen that will shape our defense plan. We're waiting for them, as these news will stem directly from Mr. Kohver," said Feigin, again without going into details.
Whatever the news will be, efforts at higher levels to free Kohver have been unfruitful. On Monday, the Russian Ambassador in Estonia, Yuri Merzlyakov, conveyed a response from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying that Kohver had been arrested on Russian territory.
"The unpleasant incident on the Russian-Estonian border where an agent operation carried out by Estonian special services was stopped on Russian territory and staff officer Eston Kohver apprehended cannot understandably go without causing concern in us. Considering the gravity of the accusations against Kohver, we inform you that this case is under the greatest scrutiny in Russia," Merzlyakov said, according to Postimees.
Kohver went missing on September 5 near the Estonian border post of Luhamaa. The federal security service of Russia later announced his arrest. If convicted in Russia, he faces up to 20 years for espionage.
Estonia maintains that he was abducted from Estonian soil, with substantial circumstantial evidence indicating this may have been the case.