Sweden expels Russian diplomats in Ericsson spy case

Sweden has expelled two Russian diplomats in connection with a spy scandal at Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Sweden's foreign ministry said Monday.

"Two Russian diplomats have been declared persona non grata due to activities not in conformance with their diplomatic status. The two have already left the country," said Nina Ersman, head of the press section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm.

Police in Sweden early last week arrested three Swedish citizens suspected of spying at Ericsson and handing over secret information to a foreign power. One person was arrested while meeting with a foreign intelligence officer, the police said. The three were ordered to be held in custody by a Swedish court on Friday.

The expulsions are in connection with the Ericsson spy scandal, said Ersman, declining to give further details about the diplomats. No further action will be taken against Russia, she said. The news comes as Russia's President Vladimir Putin is meeting European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels.

The main suspect in the spying case was a former Ericsson employee, while the two others still worked in development departments at the Stockholm company, said Åse Lindskog, an Ericsson spokeswoman. The two have been suspended and Ericsson late last week suspended two additional employees who had been in contact with the main suspect, Lindskog said.

Ericsson, best known as the world's largest vendor of mobile phone networks, also has military contracts. The company makes radar systems and works on a Swedish fighter jet.

The information obtained by the spies could be of use to another country's defense, but it could also be a case of industrial espionage, according to the Swedish police. Ericsson believes the damage is limited and the material of no use to the military, a source close to the company said.

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Joris Evers

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