STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Aided by Polish diplomats who suspected they were being set up, Swedish authorities nabbed a top air force officer for attempting to sell defense secrets to Warsaw, police sources said.
Lt. Col. Bertil Stroberg, head of Swedish air force staff communications in Stockholm, was arrested by security police Friday at a post office when he tried to pick up funds from the Polish Embassy, the sources said Tuesday.
The money was a trap set by security police in cooperation with Polish diplomats who viewed an offer Stroberg had made them as a possible provocation by Sweden, the sources said.
In a letter to the embassy, the officer had offered to sell classified information about Swedish defense planning to Poland. As a sample, he enclosed a secret defense document and asked for $3,400 as down payment.
The Polish Embassy contacted the Foreign Ministry. Swedish security police, aided by the Polish diplomats, then set the trap for Stroberg, who was led to believe his offer had been accepted.
Minister of Justice Ove Rainer shrugged off the incident Tuesday. 'This is not a big affair,' he said. 'Our defense has not been hurt.'
But a special prosecutor dealing with security cases has filed a request to have Stroberg remanded in custody for 'serious spying,' a crime carrying a minimum penalty of four years in prison.
It was not known whether Stroberg made any other attempts to sell information to Eastern embassies, but as head of the communications department he would know almost every detail of Swedish military communications.
A military spokesman quoted by the Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyra said information about communications are of vital interest to foreign powers.
'For Poland it could be very interesting to find out how to intercept Swedish radio traffic in the best way,' the spokesman said.
Military communications in Sweden run on a radio network completely separated from civilian communications.
While most messages are coded and very difficult to read, it could be of interest to foreign powers to be able to follow an increase in traffic, indicating a military operation is under way, the spokesman said.