Sweden charges man with spying for Russia

A general view of the Russian embassy in Stockholm [File: TT News Agency/Janerik Henriksson via Reuters]
A general view of the Russian embassy in Stockholm

Sweden has charged a 47-year-old man with spying for Russia by selling information for several years to a Russian diplomat. Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement on Monday that the unidentified man had worked as a consultant at several Swedish companies where he had illegally obtained and sold information, placing the country’s security at risk.

“While a consultant at his former workplaces, I allege that he obtained material with the purpose of providing information to a foreign power, in this case, Russia,” said Ljungqvist. “The man was apprehended whilst meeting a Russian diplomat where he had just received 27,800 Swedish crowns [$3,360] from the diplomat.” The prosecution alleged that the man illegally transferred material from his work computer to his private computer and thereafter to USB sticks. To hide his activities from being logged, he also photographed material from the screen of his work computer, it said. Ljungqvist said the suspect could expect “a lengthy sentence” if convicted. In Sweden, the maximum penalty is for espionage is six years.

In a separate statement, the head of Sweden’s domestic security agency’s counter-espionage unit, Daniel Stenling, said “attacks on Sweden from other countries have been broadened and deepened in recent years”. “They are aimed not least at our economic prosperity and our fundamental freedoms and rights. In the last year alone the [service] has investigated both assassination attempts and illegal intelligence activities, and also espionage,” he said. The incident comes just weeks after Germany, Poland and Sweden expelled an employee of Russia’s embassy in each country. The February 8 expulsion was a coordinated tit-for-tat response to Moscow’s expulsion of a diplomat each from Germany, Poland and Sweden.

Ties between Russia and the European Union have worsened over Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s arrest and jailing in recent weeks, which have sparked nationwide opposition protests. Navalny was arrested in Moscow upon his return on January 17 from Germany, where he had received treatment after his alleged poisoning in Russia.

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