In what has been referred to as one of Sweden’s worst ever suspected espionage cases, two Swedish brothers who are accused of selling secrets to Russia’s intelligence agencies are on trial.
The Kia brothers, Peyman, 42, and Payam, 35, are charged with espionage for Moscow during a ten-year period.
The older brother had previously served in the army and security forces of Sweden.
Both men deny culpability, and Peyman Kia’s attorney maintains that there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction.
The case was special, according to the prosecutor, Mats Ljungqvist, who told Sweden’s state network SVT that the nation had not seen anything like it “in over 20 years.”
Much of the trial is being held behind closed doors due to the sensitive nature of the information being discussed.
Press access is limited and everyone attending the Stockholm courtroom has had to undergo security checks.
Intelligence expert Joakim von Braun described it as the worst case of espionage in Sweden’s history, noting the suspects had access to a list of every single employee of Sapo, the Swedish security and intelligence agency.
“That alone is a major problem as Russian intelligence focuses on human sources,” he told SVT.
At one point in his career, Peyman Kia reportedly served in the Office for Special Acquisition (KSI), one of Swedish intelligence’s most secretive departments.
In the months before his and his brother’s arrest in late 2021, investigators seized mobile phones, a smashed hard drive, several other storage devices and notes detailing cash and gold transactions.
A neighbour told local media that elite police descended from two Black Hawk helicopters in a wealthy residential area just outside Stockholm, before the couple’s windows were smashed.
Public prosecutor Henrik Olin said the man was linked to Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, and the case covered “technical acquisition for the Russian military-industrial industry”.
He was suspected of carrying out “gross intelligence activities” against both Sweden and the US, and the FBI had been assisting the investigation, Mr Olin added.
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