A man claiming to be a former member of Russian mercenary group Wagner, who fled to Norway about 10 days ago, has been arrested for violating immigration law, police said Monday, Jan. 23.

Wagner has not denied he worked for the controversial fighting force.

Twenty-six-year-old Andrei Medvedev crossed the Russian-Norwegian border in the far north in the early hours of January 13 and sought asylum in the Scandinavian country.

His lawyer told AFP last week he was "willing to speak about his experiences in the Wagner Group to people who are investigating war crimes".

The man says he fought in Ukraine as a member of Wagner for four months before deserting in November when the paramilitary organisation led by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin allegedly extended his contract against his will.

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A potentially valuable witness in shedding light on the group's reported brutality in Ukraine, he has been grilled by Norwegian authorities since arriving in the country at an undisclosed location.

"The concerned individual has been arrested under the immigration law and it is being considered whether he should be processed for detainment," Jon Andreas Johansen, a police official in charge of immigration affairs, told AFP in an email.

The police would not specify the exact reasons for his arrest and declined to make further comments.

Experts believe Medvedev could not have crossed the heavily guarded border without assistance.

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He himself claims to have crossed the frozen Pasvik river that runs along the Russian-Norwegian border on foot as he was fired upon by Russian border guards with dogs.

AFP has not been able to independently confirm his account of events.

 

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