News and Views on Tibet

Sweden to deport Chinese agent arrested for spying on Tibetans

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama meet Tibetans living in Sweden in Sep 2017 (Photo-BBC)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama meet Tibetans living in Sweden in Sep 2017 (Photo-BBC)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 28: The Swedish government has decided to deport a 52-year-old Chinese agent named Dorjee Gyantsan who was convicted of espionage against Tibetans in Sweden in April 2018. He was sentenced to a 22-month jail term by the Sodertorn District Court for “gross illegal intelligence activity” which reportedly took place between 2015-2017.

The Swedish security service (SAPO) appealed for his expulsion after he completed his time in prison; it said that his presence is “a threat to the country’s security and demanded that he should be forced to leave the country.” On June 26, the Swedish Migration office said that Gyantsan should be deported, but the decision was reassessed further after his appeal. The government eventually rejected the appeal in a decision signed by Home Minister Mikael Damberg. 

The court assessment revealed that the agent sent the Chinese intelligence information on the Tibetan community’s political activities, meetings, trips, housing and personal relations, to which the court suggested “may have caused great damage to Tibetans both in Sweden and abroad”. 

He also allegedly received payment for his information; he had received 50,000 kronor ($6,000) on at least one occasion with all his expenses paid. Gyantsan had travelled to Poland to meet a Chinese intelligence officer on several occasions as part of a comprehensive operation to spy on the Tibetan community.

Former president of the Tibetan community in Sweden, Jamyang Chodon said that it is the first known case of a Western government prosecuting a Tibetan accused of espionage, “I hope other countries will follow Sweden’s example and take the necessary actions to deter such sinister operations by China on foreign soils. . . Ostracizing the suspects and fear-mongering is the last resort. We are simply playing into China’s hands if we give in to fears and disintegration; that would eventually hamper our movement”. She advised not to exclude Tibetans out of fear but cautioned the public to remain vigilant. 

Sweden also became the first European country to close all the Confucius Institutes (CIs) by May 2020. US Secretary Mike Pompeo had also said that all CI cultural centers on university campuses in the US would be shut down by the end of 2020.

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