A court in Stockholm has sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life imprisonment and his younger brother to 10 years after they were both found guilty of spying for Russian military intelligence for more than a decade.
Peyman Kia, 42, served in Sweden’s security and counterintelligence service, Säpo, and in armed forces intelligence services, including the Foreign Intelligence Service (Must) and KSI, a top-secret unit that deals with Swedish spies abroad.
He was found guilty of aggravated espionage and unauthorized handling of secret documents. The judge, Måns Wigén, said Kia abused the trust placed in him to help Russia, the country that “poses the greatest 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 collected.
The court said they “jointly and by mutual agreement, without consent and in order to assist Russia and the GRU, obtained, forwarded and shared information the disclosure of which to a foreign power could be detrimental to the security of Sweden”.
The Iranian-born brothers, who are both Swedish nationals, have denied the allegations and are expected to appeal against them. They were arrested in 2021 when Säpo suspected it had a mole and accused them of spying for Moscow since 2011.
Much of the evidence, the court hearing and the full decision were not made public for reasons of national security, and the court admitted that despite evidence including USB sticks, laptops and cell phones, “some pieces of the puzzle are missing”.
It found that Peyman Kia handled cash worth about 550,000 kroner (£43,000) in 2016-2017, most of it in US dollars, which it said most likely represented a payment from Russia.
The verdict followed the spectacular pre-dawn arrest late last year in an affluent 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 “completely unremarkable” pair, who have not been formally named by Swedish authorities, reportedly arrived in Sweden in 1997, acquired Swedish nationality and ran an import-export business for IT and communications equipment.
A Stockholm court ordered the man detained on suspicion of “aggravated illegal intelligence activities against Sweden and a foreign power”, but released his partner – who is suspected of complicity – pending investigation. Both deny all allegations.
Swedish media have speculated that the couple’s alleged connections to Moscow’s intelligence services mean they were almost certainly drowsy cops, and prosecutor Henrik Olin has said the husband was “linked to the GRU”.