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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

Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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