Swedish court upholds life sentence in Russia espionage case

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Sweden’s Supreme Court has upheld a life sentence for Peyman Kia, one of two Iranian-born Swedish brothers accused of spying for Russia. The elder Kia had been sentenced to life imprisonment in January, in what has been deemed one of the largest espionage cases in Sweden for several decades. His younger brother, Payam Kia, was handed a sentence of nine years and ten months.

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The pair were convicted of transmitting information to Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, over a period spanning from September 2011 to September 2021. Initially, both brothers lodged appeals against the Stockholm District Court’s sentences from January 19th. However, Payam retracted his appeal last week, reportedly over concerns of receiving a stiffer sentence.

The Supreme Court delayed their verdict for a week due to the retraction. Proceedings largely took place behind closed doors, given the sensitive nature of the information involved. The Court ruled that evidence demonstrated Peyman Kia’s procurement, promotion, and disclosure of information to the GRU.

Between 2014 and 2015, Peyman Kia was employed by both Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency and the nation’s armed forces. Swedish prosecutors allege that the brothers’ intelligence originated from numerous authorities within the Swedish security and intelligence service, known as SAPO.

The espionage case is being likened to Sweden’s infamous Cold War spy scandal involving Stig Bergling, a Swedish security officer convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union.