Sweden jails Chinese man for spying on Tibetan refugees

(AFP pic)

STOCKHOLM: A Swedish court on Friday found a Chinese man guilty of espionage for gathering intelligence on Tibetan refugees in Sweden for China, sentencing him to 22 months in prison.

Dorjee Gyantsan, 49, was found guilty of infiltrating the Tibetan community to pass on information about their personal and political activities to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for money.

The Sodertorn district court, near Stockholm, said in its verdict that Dorjee had “carried out an extensive operation that put people of Tibetan origin in Sweden and their families in Tibet at significant risk”.

Dorjee left China for political reasons and fled to Nepal in 1997, before being granted a permanent residency permit in Sweden in 2002 as a resettlement refugee, court documents showed.

Born of a Tibetan mother and Chinese father, he posed in the Scandinavian country as a supporter of Tibetan independence.

The court found Dorjee repeatedly met a Chinese intelligence officer in Poland, as well as having telephone contact, to pass on information about the Tibetan community.

The espionage took place from July 2015 to February 2017, when he was arrested.

At the time of his arrest, Dorjee had just returned from a trip to Warsaw and was carrying $6,000 in cash, which prosecutors argued was payment for his information.

“This is a very serious crime. The espionage has affected very vulnerable people,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist told AFP in April.

“People who have fled to Sweden from totalitarian regimes must be able to feel safe and feel that they can exercise their constitutionally-protected freedom to protest against a regime without fear of persecution or attacks on themselves or their families.”

Some 130 Tibetans live in the Scandinavian country, according to the organisation Tibetan Community in Sweden.

Dorjee had pleaded innocent and maintained he did not know the Chinese person was an intelligence officer.

He said he planned to appeal the verdict.

The prosecution’s evidence included witness testimonies about Dorjee’s contacts with the Tibetan community, as well as his phone and travel records.

Beijing says it “peacefully liberated” Tibet in 1951 and considers it an inseparable part of China.