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Sweden charges Iraqi man with spying for Iran

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A 46-year-old Iraqi man was on Wednesday charged with spying for Iran by gathering information on Iranian refugees in Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Prosecutor Hans-Jorgen Hanstrom said the man, who was not identified, collected “personal information” about Iranian Arabs, known as Ahvazis, for Iran “under the cover of representing an Arabic online newspaper.”

The man is suspected of “having photographed and filmed Ahvazi conference delegates and demonstration participants in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden,” Hanstrom said in a statement.

The man was active during a four-year period ending February 2019, and also allegedly infiltrated online forums for opposition supporters, and gathered login information for routers, he said.

Hanstrom added the man allegedly communicated with Iranian intelligence agents via the internet or at personal meetings, including in Tehran. Iran’s Persian-dominated government is often accused of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority.

Part of the 1,700-page preliminary investigation carried out by the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s National Security Unit and the Swedish Security Service, known as SAPO, is confidential.

The man who has dual Iraqi and Swedish citizenships, was arrested Feb. 27 and a Stockholm court remanded him in detention on March 1, SAPO said.

Spying on refugees is “a very serious crime,” the agency said, adding it means that “people who are already vulnerable do not dare to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms and rights in Sweden.”

The Stockholm District Court said the trial against the man would start Nov. 19 and run until Dec. 11 and part of it would be held behind closed doors.

The accused man denies the charge.

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Olsen contributed from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Associated Press