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Norwegian Court Acquits Son Of Putin's Confidant On Illegal Drone Charges.

Andrei Yakunin in 2016

Andrei Yakunin in 2016

A Norwegian court has acquitted Andrei Yakunin, the son of one of President Vladimir Putin's longtime confidants, of charges he violated a law that bars Russian citizens from flying drones in Norway.

The Nord-Troms and Senja District Court handed down the decision late on December 7, saying that flying a hobby drone is not covered by the ban.

The 47-year-old, who has Russian and British citizenship and permanently resides in Italy, was arrested in October in Norway's Arctic region after he used two drones while sailing the Archipelago of Svalbard and along the coast of Norway.

Norwegian laws prohibit aircraft operated by Russian citizens and companies on Norwegian territory.

Prosecutors sought four months in prison for Yakunin. They said they will appeal the court's ruling.

Norwegian law enforcement officers have arrested several Russian citizens in recent months for flying drones or taking pictures of sensitive objects, including those near Norway's offshore oil and gas platforms.

Andrei Yakunin's father, Vladimir Yakunin, was a longtime member of Putin's inner circle. He has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014.

The 74-year-old businessman led Russian Railways for 10 years before he retired in 2015. British and Russia media reports said at the time that Vladimir Yakunin was dismissed due to his son's decision to apply for British citizenship.

In April, Andrei Yakunin said in an interview with Italy's La7 television channel that he stands against Russia’s ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

He also said he never voted for Putin, nor for the ruling United Russia party aligned with the president.

With reporting by NRK TV

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