Former Swedish intelligence officer sentenced to life for spying for Russia – The Guardian

A court in Stockholm has sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison and his younger brother to 10 years in prison after they were both found guilty of more than 10 years of spying for Russian military intelligence.

Peyman Kia, 42, served in Sweden’s security and counterintelligence agency Säpo and in armed forces intelligence agencies, including the Foreign Intelligence Service (Must) and KSI, a top-secret unit that deals with Swedish spies abroad.

He was found guilty of aggravated espionage and unauthorized handling of classified documents. Judge Måns Wigén said Kia abused the trust placed in him to help Russia, the country that posed “the greatest threat to Sweden”.

His brother Payam, 35, was convicted of aggravated espionage for planning the crime and maintaining contacts with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency and leaking 45 of the 90 documents Peyman found.

The court said they “collectively and in concert, without authorization and in support of Russia and the GRU, obtained, forwarded and shared information which disclosure to a foreign power could harm Sweden’s security”.

The Iranian-born brothers, who both hold Swedish citizenship, have denied the allegations and are expected to appeal them. They were arrested in 2021 when Säpo suspected a mole and accused them of spying for Moscow since 2011.

Much of the evidence, the court hearing and the full decision was not released for national security reasons, and the court acknowledged that despite evidence including USB sticks, laptops and cellphones, “some pieces of the puzzle are missing”.

It emerged that Peyman Kia was handling around 550,000 kroner (£43,000) worth of cash in 2016-17, most of it in US dollars, most likely representing payments from Russia.

The verdict followed late last year in a wealthy Stockholm suburb the spectacular pre-dawn arrest of a Russian couple suspected of conducting “illegal intelligence activities” against Sweden and the US – also for more than 10 years.

The “completely unassuming” couple, who have not been officially named by Swedish authorities, reportedly came to Sweden in 1997, acquired Swedish citizenship and ran an IT and communications equipment import-export company.

A Stockholm court ordered the man’s arrest on suspicion of “complicated illegal intelligence activities against Sweden and a foreign power”, but released his partner – who is suspected of being his accomplice – pending investigation. Both deny all allegations.

Swedish media have speculated that the couple’s alleged links to Moscow’s intelligence services mean they were almost certainly sleepers, and prosecutor Henrik Olin said the husband had “links to the GRU”.