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Newspaper cleared over Guillou 'spy' affair

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Newspaper cleared over Guillou 'spy' affair
09:08 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Press Council (Pressens opinionsnämnd) has freed the Expressen newspaper for its article series revealing that the prominent Swedish author and journalist Jan Guillou had liaisons spanning five years with the Soviet intelligence service in the 1960s.

Jan Guillou had in his report to the council maintained that he had been identified by Expressen as a spy but the Press Council rejected this and ruled that the allegations published in the newspaper were correct.

"Guillou was able to comment on the news day after day, he was allowed to chat with visitors to the site, he could speak out on web-TV, he could write on the debate page," Expressen chief editor Thomas Mattsson wrote in a comment on the ruling in his blog.

The revelations were disclosed by Expressen after it obtained documents from Swedish intelligence agency Säpo on Guillou's relations with the KGB.

The documents centre around Russian agent Jevgenij Ivanovitj Gergel, the KGB's man in Stockholm at the end of the 1960s.

A witness statement from one of Guillou's journalist colleagues at the time raised the alarm over relations between the two. It also refers to an assignment to steal an internal telephone directory from the American Embassy in Stockholm.

Guillou confirmed that he first met Gergel at a reception held at the Soviet Embassy in Stockholm in 1967.

”We never did anything other than talk politics,” he told the newspaper.

Guillou adds that his connection never led to any journalistic revelations and he denies spying for the Soviets.

He concedes, however, that he undertook paid assignments but claims the purpose was of a professional nature, to investigate how the KGB was working in Sweden at the time.

”It was just a few non-events and it is not a crime to meet foreign intelligence services,” he added.

Guillou had contact with the KGB until 1972 when he began publishing articles that revealed the existence of Informationsbyrån, a secret Swedish military intelligence agency that spied on Swedish citizens for political purposes. He was later jailed for espionage.

Säpo's investigation of Guillou's KGB relations never led to any indictments Expressen wrote.

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