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In Sweden, the spectacular arrest of a Russian couple suspected of being Kremlin “sleeper agents”

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In the neighborhood, the neighbors still can’t believe it. Tuesday, November 22, at dawn, they were awakened by the sound of two helicopters flying over the residential suburb of Nacka, east of Stockholm. Operation “Spjut” (“spear” in Swedish) had just begun. At 6:01 a.m., those who had had time to get up could see men from the rapid intervention force abseiling from Black Hawks, landing on the balconies of a large white villa, before entering through the Windows. At the same time, police vehicles rushed down the street.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers France, like Europe, is under attack from Russian espionage

To justify the spectacular nature of the operation, Stefan Hector, the police chief, indicated that the objective was to “quickly take control of suspects and property, to avoid the destruction of evidence”. The two people arrested, identified as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Koulkova by the investigation site Bellingcat, are of Russian origin. He is suspected of “aggravated illegal intelligence activities” against Sweden and against “a foreign power”. She, to be his accomplice.

On Friday, November 25, the Stockholm court decided to keep the husband in pre-trial detention. His wife had been released the day before. At the end of the hearing, prosecutor Henrik Olin revealed that the Swedish intelligence services had received assistance from the FBI. Because in addition to being suspected of spying against Sweden since 1er July 2014, the couple would also have collected intelligence against the United States from 1er January 2013. According to the prosecutor, the suspicions relate to “the illegal acquisition of technologies for the Russian military industry”. Henrik Olin also mentioned links between Sergei Skvortsov and “GRU Russian military intelligence services”without giving further details.

A veritable nest of Russian agents

If the Swedish media have still not published the names of the two suspects, they have begun to trace the course of the couple, which is strangely reminiscent of that of the Jennings of the series The Americans. Inspired by a true story, it featured two “illegals”: KGB agents sent to the United States in the 1980s, during the Cold War, to blend into the landscape and, under their false identity of ordinary Americans, conduct intelligence operations on behalf of the USSR. In 2010, the FBI arrested ten of these clandestine agents, who were then deported to Russia.

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