Stockholm District Court on Thursday sentenced Peyman Kia, 42, to life in jail and his brother Payam Kia, 35, to nine years and ten months for aggravated espionage.
Peyman Kia is a former intelligence official who worked for Sweden’s security police, Säpo, as well as the Swedish Armed Forces and their military intelligence service, Must, for years.
The brothers had “together and in concertation, illegally and for the benefit of Russia and the GRU, acquired, transmitted and disclosed information whose disclosure to a foreign power could harm Sweden’s security”.
The court found Peyman Kia guilty of gathering some 90 classified documents through his jobs.
His brother was meanwhile found guilty of planning the crime and managing contacts with the GRU, passing on about 45 of the classified documents.
They were arrested in 2021, several years after Säpo first suspected a mole in its organisation and counter-intelligence began investigating Peyman Kia.
The pair have been held in custody since their arrest. Both denied the charges.
Peyman Kia was handed a life sentence for carrying out espionage “of the most serious category”, judge Måns Wigén said, adding that he had taken advantage of his employment as an intelligence official to aid Russia.
“Russia is the biggest threat to Sweden’s security. As far as foreign power go, acts of espionage to help Russia must therefore be considered as the most serious,” states the court judgment, seen by The Local.
Despite a trove of evidence including USB sticks, laptops, hard discs and mobile phones, the court acknowledged that there was much it had not been able to ascertain.
“After studying the evidence, it is clear that some pieces of the puzzle are missing and it has therefore not been possible to establish with certainty what has happened”, it wrote in a statement.
Possible money motive
The court speculated that the brothers may have been motivated by money.
Among other things, it found that Peyman Kia handled cash worth around 550,000 kronor (almost $50,000) in 2016-2017, more than 80 percent of it in US dollars, which it said was likely payment from Russia for the classified documents.
Much of the investigation and court hearing, and Thursday’s full court ruling, was considered classified information and therefore not made available to the public.
The trial coincides with another spectacular spying case believed to have benefited Russia involving a couple of Russian origin arrested last year at their home in a Stockholm suburb in a police helicopter raid at dawn.
Moscow allegedly installed the couple, named by the Bellingcat investigative website as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Koulkova, as sleeper agents in the late 1990s.
According to Swedish media, the pair managed specialist import-export companies dealing in electronic components and industrial technology.
Skvortsov was placed in temporary custody in November for “illegal intelligence activities” while his companion was detained on suspicion of complicity before being released although she remains a person of interest in the investigation.
Swedish authorities say the case is not linked to that of the Kia brothers.
Article by AFP’s Pia Ohlin, with quote from court judgment added by The Local