FAQ for media in the case of Andrey Yakunin
1. What is Andrey Yakunin’s nationality?
Andrey is a dual British-Russian citizen. He was born in Russia and received British citizenship in 2015.
2. What is Andrey’s full name?
Andrey’s full name is ‘Andrey Yakunin’, as written in his British passport.
3. Where does Andrey live?
Andrey lives in Umbria, Italy. He conducts a substantial part of his business activity in Italy.
What are the charges?
Andrey is charged with unlawfully flying a drone as a Russian national during a sailing trip in August.
5. Is Andrey charged with espionage?
6. Has Andrey admitted guilt?
No. He has only admitted to the fact of flying a recreational drone on Svalbard, not that he was wrong to do so. He used the drone for photography and scouting of mountaineering routes, activities he could not have reasonably been expected to know were illegal given the lack of clear regulation around recreational drone flight.
7. Did Andrey fly a drone near critical infrastructure?
No. He used it in a remote area of Svalbard.
8. Did he fly any drones outside of Svalbard?
9. What kind of drone did Andrey use in Svalbard?
He used a lightweight DJI Mavic 2 recreational drone, which can be bought online (see DJI Mavic website below). He has a valid drone operator's license and pilot ID.
10. Did Andrey conceal any footage?
No. Andrey handed over all cameras, memory cards, and other electronic devices on the yacht to the police.
Released or detianed
11. So, is Andrey released or detained?
He is now detained. On Thursday 27 October the Court of Appeal ordered that Andrey be released. The Supreme Court Appeal Committee overturned this decision on Friday 28 October.
On Monday 31 October, the District Court heard the case again and ruled for Andrey’s release. However, the prosecution again made an appeal to keep Andrey detained. We are awaiting the Court of Appeal’s decision.
12. What will happen in the coming weeks and months?
Andrey’s defence team will continue to challenge the grounds for him to be kept in detainment prior to his trial. We expect the detainment case to be heard over the coming days.
We expect the overall case to be heard by the District Court, and later the higher courts, over the coming weeks and months if Andrey is indicted.
13. Has Andrey been indicted?
14. When is the trial?
If he is indicted the trial will start on Tuesday 29 November 2022 and end on Friday 2 December.
15. Why did the Supreme Court annul the ruling of the Court of Appeal to release Andrey
It is not for Andrey’s legal team to speak on behalf of the Supreme Court. They respect the Norwegian judiciary system and are cooperating fully. They have no desire to evade the law and simply want to prove Andrey’s innocence through a fair trial.
However, the legal team understands that even among the most respected judges and lawyers in Norway there is no common understanding as to how to interpret the latest sanctions regulations around aircraft, let alone when there is dual citizenship involved. Given the lack of consensus among experienced legal professionals, they deem it unfair that a tourist such as Andrey should be expected to understand specific legalities around recreational drone flight.
16. Why should Andrey be released before the trial?
Andrey’s legal team has confirmed that there is no risk of evasion. He accepts passport confiscation and other restrictions, although the District Court found no reason for any such measures. Andrey is waiting to demonstrate his innocence in court on 29 November.
Andrey is fully aware that any contempt of court would bear very high financial and reputational risk for him. It would be unquestionable for Andrey to put his livelihood and good name at stake, especially when he has done nothing wrong.
Recreational visits to Svalbard
17. Why was Andrey in Svalbard?
He came to Svalbard on holiday, as he has been almost every year since 2016. Andrey loves the beauty of the Arctic. He is a passionate mountaineer, sailor, and overall lover of extreme sports. He shares many photographs and videos from his trips on his social media, so anyone can find out first-hand about his sailing trips to Svalbard and other destinations on Firebird (see links below).
18. What is Firebird?
Firebird is a 27.1-metre Oyster expedition sailing yacht refitted for extreme sailing in the Arctic.
John Christian Elden
Jens Bernhard Herstad
Elden Advokatfirma AS
Tel: +47 21 61 13 12