By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, June 16: A Swedish court on Friday sentenced a Tibetan man to 22 months in prison for spying on the exiled Tibetan community in the Scandinavian nation for China.
The Sodertorn District Court, near Stockholm, convicted Dorjee Gyantsan, 49, of "gross illegal intelligence activity". He is said to have passed on information about personal and political activities of Tibetans living there to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for money. Prosecutors said that he carried out is operation from July 2015 to February 2017.
Gyanstan, said to be of mixed parentage of a Chinese father and a Tibetan mother, left occupied Tibet and fled to Nepal in 1997. He was granted a permanent residency permit in Sweden in 2002 as a resettlement refugee, court documents presented during the case showed.
Swedish prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist told AFP
in April "This is a very serious crime. The espionage has affected very vulnerable people."
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.
The Tibetan man was arrested in February 2017 by Swedish Intelligence Service. “The arrested man is suspected of having, at the request of another country, illegally gathered information about people in the Tibetan community in Sweden,” Sweden’s security agency SAPO at the time said in a statement, days after the arrest.
Reports published by Swedish news agency The Local
as well as international media houses like The Guardian
mentioned that the Tibetan man worked for exile Tibetan news outlet ‘Voice of Tibet’. The media outlet that is reputed in the Tibetan community and internationally for Tibet-related news operates out of Dharamshala, India. VOT told Phayul that the man charged with espionage was never in their payroll and that such claims were false in its entirety.
There are close to 140 Tibetans living in Sweden. The head of the Tibetan community there, Jamyang Choedon, told The Local
earlier, "It is clear that there are spies who are sent by China to Tibetan communities, but this is the first time it’s been officially investigated."