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Documents cast doubt on Swede's spy conviction

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Documents cast doubt on Swede's spy conviction
11:47 CEST+02:00
For the past 25 years the Swedish Security Service (Säpo) has been sitting on documents attesting to the innocence of a man charged with espionage in 1983, a new investigation has revealed.

In 1983, despite fervent protestations of his innocence, lieutenant-colonel Bertil Ströberg was sentenced to six years imprisonment on charges of espionage.

Ströberg was arrested on the May 20th, 1983 at the main post office on Vasagatan in Stockholm, where he had been inquiring for letters addressed to a 'Sven-Roland Larsson'.

Several weeks earlier, the Polish embassy in Stockholm had received a letter signed by a 'Sven-Roland Larsson' which contained a number of state secrets and a request for 25,000 kronor ($3,500) in exchange for further information.

During his hearing, Ströberg claimed that he had met a man calling himself 'Sven-Roland Larsson' at Djurgården in Stockholm. Shortly thereafter, he received a letter from 'Larsson' containing a request to pick up a delivery in the man's name.

At the time of his conviction, the court ruled that Ströberg's explanation of the incident was absurd and an obvious cover story. Through the years that followed, Ströberg clung to his original explanation and insisted that he was the victim of a conspiracy.

But according to TV4's investigative news program, Kalla Fakta, the lieutenant-colonel may have been telling the truth after all.(S

At the request of TV4, the Säpo has now lifted the lid on Ströberg's file, revealing a number of important documents pertaining to the case – documents that the court and Ströberg's lawyer were never able to see.

The documents contain information from a formerly unknown Swedish spy, Lennart Savemark, who infiltrated the embassies of a number of communist nations during the 1950's.

After hearing of the Ströberg case in 1984, Savemark contacted the Säpo to inform them that he himself had been personally targeted by a 'Sven-Roland Larsson' 25 years prior to Ströberg's conviction.

During the mid-1950's Savemark was on an assignment in the Soviet embassy when a letter turned up on his desk. The letter contained a copy of a secret report that he had submitted to Säpo detailing his work in the Soviet embassy. It was accompanied by a letter offering further information in exchange for 2,000 kronor, signed 'Sven-Roland Larsson.'

At the time of the occurrence, the 25-year-old Ströberg was attending the Swedish Defence Academy (Försvarets läroverk) in Uppsala.

No information or evidence exists to tie Ströberg to this incident.

"I hope to God that the story will be corrected as soon as possible," a tearful Ströberg told TV4.

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