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Russian couple detained in Sweden on suspicion of espionage

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Swedish authorities say two people were arrested in Stockholm on suspicion of espionage, according to a report by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet citing Head of the National Operational Police Stefan Hector. According to Hector, the detainees are suspected of illegal intelligence activities. Two Blackhawk helicopters were involved in the operation to apprehend the pair.

“In this case, it was a matter of taking control of the criminals and property at short notice to prevent evidence from being destroyed. This morning's operation had to be done quickly. It was not easy, and that is why experts from the National Operational Directorate and police aviation, supported by helicopter resources of the Armed Forces, were involved,” said Stefan Hector. He did not give any details about the case.

According to Aftonbladet, the detainees are a man and a woman from Russia in their 60s. They both moved to Sweden at the same time about 20 years ago. Police suspect that the man “has been spying for a foreign power for about ten years” while the woman in the case is an accomplice. The couple’s business in Sweden was importing and exporting electronic components and industrial technologies with a turnover of more than 30 million Swedish kronor a year (€2.7 million).

In 2016, the Swedish Tax Authority was given permission to search the couple's home to gather evidence as part of an investigation into tax crimes, Aftonbladet reported. In the investigation, Swedish tax officials discovered that the companies had a complex ownership structure that “led to tax havens abroad.”

Euronews reported that shortly before the Russian couple's arrest, Swedish authorities accused two brothers of Iranian origin of allegedly spying for Russian military intelligence (GRU) for close to 10 years. One of the suspects worked for Swedish domestic intelligence. Both deny any wrongdoing. Swedish prosecutors report that there is no connection between the two cases.

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