Spy goes back to the cold

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The Independent Online
SWEDEN'S only significant spy returned home of his own free will yesterday, seven years after escaping from a life prison sentence for treason during a conjugal visit to his wife's flat.

Stig Bergling, who as a Swedish intelligence officer turned over more than 14,000 secret documents to the Soviet Union before he was caught in 1979, slipped into the country in the dead of night after obtaining police permission to return. Police said he and his wife, who were travelling on false passports, had spent the seven years 'somewehere in the Middle East'.

As Bergling was being interrogated at Stockholm police headquarters, Sweden's Conservative Prime Minister, Carl Bildt, vowed there would be no mercy. 'The man was a traitor to his country. His treason caused Sweden great damage. He will now continue to serve his sentence.'

As a double agent, Bergling gave the Soviet Union details on the location of Swedish coastal defence installations.

In the following years, Soviet submarines regularly intruded into Swedish restricted waters.

The Defence Minister, Anders Bjorck, said yesterday he hoped new interrogation would clear up lingering security questions. 'The damage Bergling did through his spying is still causing us harm. I hope that the fact that he is back will help us solve more unresolved issues,' he said.

Both the government and police denied they had made any deals with Bergling, now 57, to entice him to return. The latter claimed he and his wife had been missing their children.