Former Swedish officer sentenced to life in prison for spying for Russia

A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia and his brother. Considered one of the most serious cases in the history of Swedish counterintelligence, much of the proceedings took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, between 2011 and their arrest in late 2021, Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, benefited from information the two brothers sent.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held several key positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Byam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including the exchange of information and the collection of financial rewards.”

Swedish news agency TT reported that both deny the charges and that their lawyers should be acquitted of charges of “gross espionage”.

The investigation coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage in which a Russian-born couple was arrested in a suburb of Stockholm in late November by a police commando who appeared in a Blackhawk helicopter at dawn.

The pair, identified by research website Bellingcat as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova, are said to have worked as Moscow’s sleeper agents after moving to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the pair ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

The man was arrested again in late November for “illegal intelligence activities”. His suspected accomplice was acquitted but remains under investigation.

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According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are unrelated to the investigation against the Kia brothers.

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