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Sweden charges man for selling information to Russia

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Prosecutors in Sweden have charged a 47-year-old man for allegedly spying for Russia in a high-tech industry.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is accused of selling sensitive information to a Russian diplomat for several years.

The information is reported to have concerned the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo, and the heavy goods vehicle giant Scania, which belongs to a branch of the German Volkswagen group.

Prosecutors say that the man illegally transferred material from his work computer to his private computer using USB memory sticks.

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He is also alleged to have taken photographs of his work computer screen in an effort to hide his activities from IT systems.

“As a consultant at his former workplaces, I allege that he has obtained material with the purpose of providing information to a foreign power, in this case, Russia,” said prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist.

“He has been well-paid for this information, and this shows the value the Russians place on the information provided,” Ljungqvist added in a statement.

The suspect was arrested in February 2019 as he was meeting a Russian diplomat in a restaurant in central Stockholm, where he had received 27,800 Swedish krona (€2768).

Swedish authorities say the diplomat in question is a Russian intelligence officer who had previously been released after asserting diplomatic immunity.

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The investigation has been carried out by Sweden’s Security Service, under the direction of the National Security Unit of the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

The suspect faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison if convicted of espionage. According to prosecutors, his crimes placed Sweden’s national security at risk.

“My view is that the crime is serious and, if convicted, the suspect could expect a lengthy sentence,” said Ljungqvist.

“The investigators have put in a lot of time in order to understand the material so as to assess it from the perspective of Sweden’s security.”

“It is important to emphasise that Sweden is the injured party in this case and not the companies … because the suspect originally had authorisation from his employers to access the material in his position.”

In a separate statement, Sweden’s Security Service confirmed that a man had been charged with espionage at Gothenburg District Court.

“The attacks on Sweden from other countries have been broadened and deepened in recent years,” said their head of counterintelligence, Daniel Stenling.

“They are aimed not least at our economic prosperity and our fundamental freedoms and rights. In the last year alone, the Security Service has investigated both assassination attempts and illegal intelligence activities and also espionage”.

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Following the arrests in 2019, Stockholm refused two visas to Russian diplomats, while Moscow expelled two Swedish diplomats in retaliation.

“Russia is one of the main intelligence threats against Sweden,” said Stenling, accusing Moscow of both traditional and “security-threatening” espionage.

“The combination provides both breadth and depth in the collection of secret information.” Russia has not responded to the allegations.

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