Meanwhile, Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, says it has arrested an American for espionage.
Two brothers have been sentenced to long prison terms in Sweden for serious spying for Russia. The older of the two was sentenced to life in prison by a Stockholm court on Thursday, the younger to nine years and 10 months. There is no doubt that the brothers obtained, transported and disclosed information to Russia and the Russian military intelligence service GRU, the court said.
Disclosure of this information to a foreign power could jeopardize Sweden’s security. The 42- and 35-year-old men were found guilty of aggravated espionage, and the older man of unauthorized manipulation of secret information. According to the indictment, the older man was an employee of the Swedish Säpo intelligence service and the military and obtained the documents as part of that work. The youngest took part in the planning of the crimes and maintained contacts with Russia and the GRU.
The two accused have systematically denied the allegations, which refer to a period of around ten years. They were arrested in September and November 2021 respectively. Because a lot of classified information played a role in the process, it mostly took place behind closed doors.
Russia starts spying against US citizens
Meanwhile, Russia has also been acting on suspicion of espionage: according to its own statements, the Russian domestic secret service FSB has initiated criminal proceedings against an American citizen on suspicion of espionage. The person is accused of collecting information on biological intelligence, which endangers the national security of the Russian Federation, the FSB said on Thursday. The secret service did not disclose who it was or if the person was arrested.
Several US citizens have been arrested in Russia in recent years. Some of them were released as part of prisoner exchanges. However, the charge of espionage is particularly serious in Russia, which is why spy suspects are rarely released. Former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested on spying charges in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020, is still in prison. American basketball player Brittney Griner, convicted of drug possession, was released in December.
Not least because of the war in Ukraine, relations between Russia and the US have deteriorated. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, they will not be the same again. The US government has stopped talks on a strategic dialogue between the two countries, Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday.