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Russia Expels 2 Swedish Diplomats for Alleged Espionage - 2002-12-02

Russia said it is expelling two Swedish diplomats for activities against the security interests of the Russian state. The move appears to be in retaliation for Sweden's recent expulsion of two Russian diplomats linked to an industrial spying case.

Sweden's ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the foreign ministry Monday and notified of the decision to expel two of his staff from Russia. The identity of the two staffers has not been disclosed.

In a written statement, the Russian foreign ministry said the two were declared persona non grata for "activities damaging the security interests of the Russian state."

The ministry provided no other details about the expulsions, which the Swedish ambassador has reportedly called "groundless."

The move comes nearly a month after Sweden expelled two Russian diplomats in connection with an industrial spying scandal at the Stockholm-based technology company, Ericsson.

Three Ericsson employees were arrested in early November on suspicion of providing secret corporate information to an unidentified foreign agent. Two other employees were accused of helping to gather the material in question.

At the time, the Russian foreign ministry said the Swedish expulsion of the two Russian diplomats aroused "bewilderment and regret." And ministry officials said Russia reserved the right to adequately respond.

A world leader in mobile telephone networks, Ericsson also develops and produces radar and missile guidance systems for defense programs worldwide. Ericsson has declined to detail which documents were leaked, though a senior source has been quoted as saying they did not appear to be linked to any military projects.