Sweden’s highest court has upheld the life sentence for the eldest of two Iranian-born Swedish brothers for spying for Russia and its military intelligence service GRU for a decade
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s highest court on Thursday upheld the life sentence for the eldest of two Iranian-born Swedish brothers for spying for Russia and its military intelligence service GRU for a decade.
Peyman Kia, a naturalized Swede, was sentenced to life in January in one of the Scandinavian country’s biggest espionage case in decades. His brother, Payam Kia, was given nine years and 10 months. They were found guilty for having worked jointly to pass information to Russia between Sept. 28, 2011, and Sept. 20, 2021.
At first, both brothers appealed the Jan. 19 sentences by the Stockholm District Court. But Payam Kia retracted his appeal last week, hours before the appeals verdict was scheduled to be announced. His lawyer, Björn Sandin, explained to Swedish broadcaster SVT that his client feared getting a higher sentence.
Thursday’s verdict by the Supreme Court was postponed a week because of that. As before, proceedings were held behind closed doors most of the time because of the sensitivity of the information.
The Supreme Court said “it has been proven that the older brother procured, promoted and disclosed (information) to the Russian intelligence service GRU.”
Between 2014 and 2015, Peyman Kia worked for Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency as well as for the country’s armed forces. Swedish prosecutors alleged that the data the brothers gave the Russians originated from several authorities within the Swedish security and intelligence service, known by its acronym SAPO.
Peyman Kia, who was arrested in September 2021, reportedly also worked for the armed forces’ defense intelligence agency. He was involved with a top secret unit within the agency that dealt with Swedish spies abroad, according to media in Sweden.
His brother was arrested in November 2021.
The case has been compared to one of Sweden’s largest spy scandals which took place during the Cold War when Stig Bergling, a Swedish security officer who worked for both SAPO and the armed forces, sold secrets to the Soviet Union. He was sentenced in 1979 to life imprisonment on similar charges and later escaped while serving his time and returned voluntarily to Sweden in 1994. He died in his native country in January 2015.