A Russian-Israeli dual citizen was arrested in Norway on Tuesday after using drones to take photos in the country, according to Norwegian media.
The citizen, named as Vitaly Rustanov, had been in Norway since August and was arrested at the Storskog border crossing between Norway and Russia.
Norwegian authorities have banned Russian citizens from flying drones in Norway.
Police seized two drones and several electronic storage devices, according to Norwegian state news agency NRK.
Police asked for the suspect’s arrest to be extended for two weeks.
The Norwegian Verdens Gang newspaper reported on that acquaintances of Rustanov have said that he is a long-time photographer and just a tourist.
“[He] is a photographer, he travels constantly and takes pictures everywhere,” says Stepan Romanov, who works in a design agency in Moscow, to Verdens Gang.
Rustanov was reportedly carrying three passports, including an Israeli one, with Romanov stating that he was on his way to Israel.
Artyom Chernov, another acquaintance of Rustanov’s, told Verdens Gang that Rustanov received Israeli citizenship last year.
“[He] is just an amateur photographer, sometimes he works as a freelance journalist. I’m sure he meant no harm and was just filming the beauty of Norway. I am sure he is not a spy,” said Chernov.
Rustanov’s attorney Jens Bernhard Herstad told Verdens Gang that the description provided by the acquaintances matches his impression of him and the information provided by police.
A second Russian national was arrested for flying a drone near Tromso Airport in northern Norway on Friday. He entered the country through the Storskog crossing on Thursday for a work visit and claims that he was only taking photos for private purposes, according to Verdens Gang.