Sweden expels Russian diplomat over spy row

Sweden and Russia have each expelled a diplomat from the other country in a row over alleged spying, the Swedish TT news agency reported on Wednesday.

“A Russian diplomat at the Russian embassy in Stockholm has had to leave the country,” Swedish prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand told the agency, adding that a Swedish diplomat in Moscow had also been thrown out.

Lindstrand said the mutual expulsions followed the two-month detention of Russian researcher Andrei Zamyatnin, 29, who had been invited to work at the university of agricultural science at Uppsala, north of Stockholm.

Zamyatnin, a biologist specialising in botany and plant viruses, was picked up on February 15 in Uppsala on suspicion of spying and illegal intelligence activities.

Lindstrand said Zamyatnin had collected “a major amount” of information about the university’s research programme and staff.

But he eventually concluded that the information collected was not damaging to national security and Zamyatnin was freed on April 7.

In March Moscow had protested about the detention and summoned the Swedish ambassador to demand that Zamyatnin be freed.

The Swedish foreign ministry told AFP that Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson had no comment to make on reports on the reciprocal expulsions.

“It is a matter that we are discussing with the (people) concerned, above all the government,” Eliasson said, according to TT, adding that the parliament’s foreign affairs committee would also be involved.

The expulsion of the Swedish diplomat based in Moscow had taken place “some weeks ago” and led to protests from Stockholm, the agency said.