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Suspected Spies Face Court Case

Published: May 13, 2003 (Issue # 866)


STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Three employees of wireless-equipment maker LM Ericsson face charges for allegedly passing secret information from the company to a Russian intelligence official, Swedish prosecutors said Thursday.

Afshin Bavand, 46, was charged with gross espionage and industrial espionage, while Mansour Rokkgireh, 44, and Alireza Rafiei Bejarkenari, 40, were charged with complicity in industrial espionage.

Bavand could be sentenced to life in prison, while Rokkgireh and Bejarkenari could get four to five years, chief prosecutor Thomas Lindstrand said. All three are Swedish citizens.

The trial is scheduled to start May 14 and last for two weeks. A verdict is expected in June.

Bavand is accused of handing over secret company information to a Russian intelligence agent, while Rokkgireh and Bejarkenari are accused of helping him gather the information.

"If these ... secrets have been given away, it is my opinion that it may cause harm to the overall defense or to the security of the country," Lindstrand said.

But Ericsson spokesperson Henry Stenson said that the espionage involved the company's commercial telecommunications systems, and not its military-related work. "The Cold War is over, but evidently there is a continued interest in gathering information."

Stockholm-based Ericsson also makes radar systems for defense programs worldwide, including for the JAS-39 Gripen fighter planes made by Sweden's Saab and Britain's BAE Systems.

The suspects worked in the development unit but did not hold high-ranking positions, according to Ericsson.

Bavand was arrested in November while talking to a Russian intelligence agent near Stockholm. Police searched the Russian, who was not identified, and found $4,000 and Ericsson documents.

Sweden responded by expelling two Russian diplomats. Russia later expelled two Swedish diplomats, apparently in retaliation.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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