A court in Stockholm has sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life imprisonment and his younger brother to 10 years after finding both guilty of spying for Russia’s military intelligence service for more than a decade.
Peyman Kia, 42, served in the Swedish security and counter-intelligence service, Sapo, and in armed forces intelligence agencies, including the foreign intelligence agency (Must) and KSI, a top-secret unit dealing with Swedish spies abroad.
He was found guilty of aggravated espionage and unauthorised handling of classified documents. The judge, Mans Wigen said, Kia had abused the trust placed in him in order to aid Russia, the country posing “the biggest threat to Sweden”.
His brother Payam, 35, was convicted of aggravated espionage for planning the crime and managing contacts with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, passing on 45 of the 90 documents Peyman was found to have gathered.
The court said they had “jointly and in concertation, without authorisation and to assist Russia and the GRU, acquired, forwarded and shared information whose disclosure to a foreign power could be detrimental to Sweden’s security”.
The Iranian-born brothers, both of whom hold Swedish citizenship, have denied the charges and are expected to appeal against them. They were arrested in 2021 when Sapo suspected it had a mole, and accused of having spied for Moscow since 2011.
Much of the evidence, court hearing, and full decision was not made public for national security reasons, and the court conceded that despite evidence including USB sticks, laptops and mobile phones, “some pieces of the puzzle are missing”.
It found that in 2016-17, Peyman Kia handled cash worth around 550,000 kronor (£43,000), most of it in US dollars, which it said most likely represented payment from Russia.
The verdict followed the spectacular pre-dawn arrest late last year in a wealthy Stockholm suburb of a Russian couple suspected of carrying out “illegal intelligence activities” against Sweden and the US – also for more than 10 years.
The “wholly unremarkable” pair, who have not been formally named by Swedish authorities, reportedly arrived in Sweden in 1997, acquired Swedish nationality and ran an IT and communications equipment import-export firm.
A Stockholm court ordered the man to be held on suspicion of “aggravated illegal intelligence activities against Sweden and a foreign power”, but released his partner – suspected of being his accomplice – pending inquiries. Both deny all the allegations.
Swedish media has speculated that the couple’s alleged connections to Moscow’s intelligence community mean they were almost certainly sleeper agents, and the public prosecutor, Henrik Olin, has said the husband was “linked to the GRU”.