Jailed Swedish spy admits selling information to the Russians

Peyman Kia, 42, the eldest of the two brothers jailed in January for spying for Russia's GRU intelligence service, has for the first time admitted to passing over information for money.

Jailed Swedish spy admits selling information to the Russians
A court drawing of the two brothers, Peyman Kia and Payam Kia in court last year. Photo: Anders Humlebo/TT

Kia had a long career in Swedish intelligence official, working for the security police, Säpo, as well as the Swedish Armed Forces and their military intelligence service, Must. He was sentenced to life in prison in January for what has been called Sweden’s worst-ever spy scandal. 

Throughout the court case last year, Kia and his brother claimed innocence, but now, in a new interview with Säpo, he has for the first time started to admit what he did. 

“It was quite simply to earn money for myself,” he told Säpo in an interview, according to the broadcaster TV4, although he played down the importance of the information he had passed over. 

“I have never been in direct contact [with GRU], actually physically. On the first occasion it was real intelligence information, it was ‘live’ intelligence information, and I got paid for it. Then messages came back and forth, and on the second occasion I sent information it was 100 percent false, totally invented, and it was invented because they started to make detailed requests”. 

“Based on the orders which came, I pulled off a con and made it up entirely, giving information I thought could be considered probable, and I got compensation for that too.” 

He told Säpo his first contact had been with the foreign intelligence service, SVR, but that he had been passed to Russia’s military intelligence wing, the GRU, after his first delivery of information. 

He said that Russian intelligence’s increased activity in Sweden had been connected to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and that in 2014, when he began feeding information to Russia, most of the information had been about the hunt for Russian submarines in the Swedish archipelago. 

“That’s all they were interested in. It was everything about the submarine hunt, who was working on it, and what information have they managed to collect,” he said. 

He said it had been his little brother, Payam Kia, who had posted envelopes to the Russian embassy addressed with just the three letters GRU. 

He has also told Säpo more about how the work was done, talking about a dead letter box he set up in the removable ceiling in the toilet of a public library, and a security box hidden in a false book in his family’s bookshelf where he hid his Iranian passport and ID. 

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Hungary calls on Sweden to address ‘grievances’ to end Nato spat

Hungary called on Sweden to "clear the air" and address "an ample amount of grievances" on Wednesday for parliament to ratify the Nordic country's Nato accession.

Hungary calls on Sweden to address 'grievances' to end Nato spat

Hungary and Turkey are the only Nato members yet to approve Sweden’s bid to join the world’s most powerful defence alliance.

Finland and Sweden ended decades of military non-alignment and decided to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Hungarian parliament, dominated by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing Fidesz party, ratified Finland’s Nato membership on Monday after months of diplomatically charged delay.

Fidesz said it would decide about backing Sweden’s admission to the military alliance at a later date.

“In the case of Sweden, there is an ample amount of grievances that need to be addressed before the country’s admission is ratified,” Orbán’s spokesman Zoltán Kovács wrote on his blog.

Kovács said there had been “a declared and open hostile attitude” for years, accusing Swedish representatives of being “repeatedly keen to bash Hungary” on rule-of-law issues.

“Adding Ankara’s woes and grievances to the mix does not leave much room to manoeuvre, at least not until the Swedes start changing their tune and help these lingering wounds heal,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is calling for Stockholm to take tougher action against Kurdish activists Turkey considers “terrorists”. Budapest insists that it supports Sweden’s Nato accession.

“However, we see the need to clear the air with Sweden in order to proceed,” Kovacs added.

The Hungarian opposition has accused Orbán’s party of trying to put pressure on Brussels by delaying a vote.

The nationalist Orbán, who nursed close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin until the invasion, has had frequent run-ins with Brussels.

The EU member is also in talks with Brussels to unlock billions of euros in bloc funding held up over rule-of-law and corruption concerns.