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Swedish court acquits businessman charged with spying for Russia

by Dmytro Basmat October 27, 2023 7:48 AM 2 min read
The entrance to the Stockholm District Court in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sept. 5, 2023. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)
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A Swedish court has acquitted a Russian-born Swedish businessman of espionage charges, stemming from allegations that he collected information for Russia's military intelligence service, the Associated Press reported on Oct. 26.

Sergey Skvortsov, who was arrested last November near Stockholm, was alleged to have undertaken “gross illegal intelligence activities against Sweden and against a foreign power,” namely the United States.

Skvortsov ran import-export companies and was accused of passing Western technology to Russian military intelligence.

However the Stockholm District Court found otherwise, saying in its verdict that Skvortsov's business dealings were "only intended for the procurement of technology from the West and not aimed at obtaining information concerning Sweden or the United States that may constitute espionage.”

The prosecutor alleged that Skvortsov had utilized espionage networks to obtain information that he could not otherwise acquire due to export regulations and sanctions. He was alleged to have helped purchase and transport the goods, misleading suppliers by providing false information and acting under false identities.

While Judge Jakob Hedenmo agreed that Skortsov had acted in this way, he said the prosecutor did not provide sufficient evidence to prove his activities amounted to espionage.

Skvortsov's lawyer, Ulrika Borg, expressed relief following the verdict.

“He has been detained for a very long time. It is stressful for anyone,” Borg said.

Russia is known for utilizing its large espionage network to conduct propaganda activities aimed at destabilizing international relations. Earlier this year, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) revealed that it uncovered over 600 Russian agents and spies in the country since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Numerous countries have also arrested saboteurs and expelled diplomats over accusations of spying for Russia during its war against Ukraine.

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