A third of Russian diplomats are spies, says Swedish security service

Wilhelm UngeBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Approximately a third of all Russian diplomats stationed in Sweden are in reality intelligence officers, according to Sweden’s intelligence service. The Scandinavian country’s primary intelligence agency, the Swedish Security Service, known as SAPO, told reporters on Wednesday that around one in three accredited officials stationed in Russia’s embassy and consulate in Gothenburg routinely engage in various forms of espionage. The claim was made at SAPO’s headquarters in Solna, in the suburbs of Stockholm, during the unveiling of the agency’s annual counterintelligence report. The main presenter at the press conference, SAPO chief analyst Wilhelm Unge, told reporters that Russia constitutes “the biggest intelligence threat against Sweden” at present.

Unge told the audience that SAPO had prevented “several attempts” by Russian diplomatic personnel to steal Swedish-made technology last year, especially related to weapons systems and other military technologies. Especially notable, said Ugne, was that the new, post-Soviet generation of Russian intelligence officers stationed in Sweden are younger in age than their Soviet-era counterparts. He added that they are also well-educated, very driven, goal-oriented and socially competent —something that Soviet intelligence officers were admittedly not known for. Unge noted that Iranian and Chinese intelligence operatives were also markedly active on Swedish soil, but refused to provide details.

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for accrediting foreign diplomats stationed in Sweden, declined comment on whether it had expelled any Russian diplomats in recent months. In a brief statement, the Ministry’s spokeswoman Anna Ekberg said simply that the Swedish government expected the Russian Federation “to respect the Vienna Convention and that their diplomats [in Sweden] are actually diplomats”. The Associated Press contacted the Russian embassy in Stockholm for a response, but officials there refused to provide one. IntelNews regulars will recall that Swedish authorities shut down airspace over Stockholm last October, while conducting an extensive search for an alleged Russian submarine, which was believed to be lurking in the port of Stockholm. The incident caused tension between the two countries, prompting calls for more stringent Swedish counterintelligence measures against Russia.

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Sweden expels Chinese diplomat after uncovering Uighur spy

Babur Mehsut

Babur Mehsut

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On June 16, intelNews drew attention to a little-noticed news report from Sweden concerning the arrest of an unidentified spy who was caught keeping tabs on an undisclosed immigrant group in the country. The spy turned out to be Babur Mehsut, a Uighur exile with dual Chinese-Swedish nationality, who was apparently monitoring the political activities of Sweden’s Uighur community on behalf of Beijing. Sweden’s security service (SAPO) and the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have declined commenting on the case. However, Swedish authorities have charged Mehsut with “unlawful acquisition and distribution of information relating to individuals for the benefit of a foreign power”, and earlier this week ordered the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat stationed in Stockholm. China responded a day later with the expulsion of a Swedish diplomat from Beijing. Read more of this post