The trial is expected to mostly take place behind closed doors due to national security concerns. It is expected to run until at least December 12.

Peyman Kia's defence lawyer Anton Strand said his client continues to deny the accusations.
Peyman Kia's defence lawyer Anton Strand said his client continues to deny the accusations. (Jessica Gow / AP)

A trial opened in Sweden for two Iranian-born Swedish brothers suspected of providing Russian intelligence agency GRU with classified information for a decade. The older brother is also charged with gross unauthorised handling of secret information, according to the prosecution.

Swedish media reported on Friday that Peyman Kia worked for the armed forces’ foreign defence intelligence agency, known in Sweden by its acronym MUST, and worked with a top secret unit within the agency that dealt with Swedish spies abroad.

Sweden prosecutor asked court to approve continued detention for the two.

The trial is expected to mostly take place behind closed doors due to national security concerns. It is expected to run until at least December 12.

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Damaging espionage case

Intelligence expert Joakim von Braun told Swedish broadcaster SVT that even though many details remain unknown, it appeared to be one of most damaging cases of espionage in Sweden's history because the men compiled a list of all the employees within SAPO.

“That alone is a big problem because Russian intelligence focuses on human sources,” von Braun said.

“The material is the absolute most secret material available,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist told court. “It is an unusual trial in that a similar case has not appeared in Sweden in over 20 years.”

One of Sweden’s largest spy scandals took place during the Cold War when Stig Bergling, a Swedish security officer who worked for both SAPO and the armed forces, sold secrets to the Soviet Union.

Predawn operation

In a separate, unrelated case, Swedish authorities on Thursday released one of two people arrested this week on suspicion of spying against Sweden and another, unnamed foreign power.

The released individual remains a suspect and authorities didn't explain why the other person was kept in custody.

The two were arrested Tuesday in a predawn operation in the Stockholm area. Authorities have given few details about the case, but Swedish media cited witnesses who described elite police rappelling from two Black Hawk helicopters to arrest them.

The naturalised Swedish citizens face sentences up to life imprisonment if convicted.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies