A Tibetan resident of Sweden was convicted by a Swedish court on Friday of spying for China and was handed a 22-month prison term, bringing to a close a case highlighting Beijing’s penetration of ethnic exile communities around the world.
Dorjee Gyantsan, 49, was found guilty by the Soderton District Court near Stockholm of collecting information on the identities, political views, and travel of fellow Tibetans living in Sweden, according to a June 15 report by the Associated Press.
Gyantsan, who spied for China from July 2015 to February 2017, had passed the information to a Chinese intelligence officer in Poland, for which the court said he had been paid 50,000 kroner (U.S. $6,000) on at least one occasion, AP said in its report.
Speaking to RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday, Jamyang Choedon, president of the Tibetan Community in Sweden, voiced relief that a “clear conclusion” on the question of Gyantsan’s guilt had finally been reached.
“We Tibetans in Sweden fully support and agree with the court’s decision,” Choedon said.
“As Tibetan refugees in Sweden, our only thought is to help each other rather than harm each other, so when we first heard the news of this Chinese spying, we were shocked, and we couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Families questioned, harassed
Following Gyantsan’s spying, family members and relatives still living in Tibet have been questioned and harassed by Chinese authorities, causing some Tibetans living in Sweden to question their freedom to work and act freely in their new home, Choedon said.
Sweden’s Security Service has noted that unlawful intelligence activities targeting refugees is a method often used to prevent them from criticizing the regime of the country from which they have escaped, and is also used to gain control over the people who have fled.
Ethnic Uyghurs living in Sweden have also reported being pressured by China to spy on the exile community there.
“Unlawful intelligence activities targeting refugees is a very serious crime,” Daniel Stenling, head of the Swedish Security Service’s Counter-Intelligence Unit, said in a statement after Gyantsan’s arrest on Feb. 26, 2017.
“It undermines the democratic process, as it prevents people who are already vulnerable and have fled their countries from exercising the rights and freedoms they should be enjoying under Sweden’s constitution,” Stenling said.
Reported by Lobsang Yeshi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.