Undercover agents for Russia asked Google how to 'disappear' from trouble. They got caught and sent to prison for years.

Undercover agents for Russia asked Google how to 'disappear' from trouble. They got caught and sent to prison for years.
Swedish judge Mans Wigen holds a press conference following the verdict in the case of two Swedish brothers charged with spying for Russia at the District Court in Stockholm, Sweden, on January 19, 2023.Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images
  • Two Iranian-born Swedish brothers were convicted of spying for Russia for 10 years.
  • One of them had a job at Sweden's domestic intelligence agency and acquired secret information.

Undercover agents working for Russia were handed hefty prison sentences after being convicted in a Swedish court case that exposed years of deception.

Peyman Kia and Payam Kia, two Iranian-born Swedish brothers, spent a decade secretly working for Russia's GRU military-intelligence agency, the Associated Press reported.

For some of that time, one brother worked for Sweden's own domestic intelligence services, as well as its military, giving them access to state secrets.

During the case, prosecutors detailed how they panicked and tried to escape, including asking Google how to evade prosecution. Their search history was captured when they were in court and formed part of the case.

Peyman, 42, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison by a Stockholm court. His younger brother, who is 35, was sentenced to nine years and 10 months.


The court verdict against them, per the AP, said that the brothers worked "for the benefit of Russia and the GRU" and " forwarded and disclosed information" that damaged Sweden's security.

Between 2014 and 2015, the eldest brother worked for Sweden's Säpo domestic-intelligence agency and the armed forces, the court heard.

He is said to have stolen around 90 secret documents. Per the AP report, his younger brother helped and acquired some 65 documents.

Russia most likely paid Peyman around $50,000 between 2016 and 2017 for the classified documents, prosecutors said, according to The Telegraph.

Shortly before Peyman and Payam's arrests in September and November 2021 respectively, the brothers tried to cover their tracks and made at least 28 searches on their phones that related to evading the law, according to The Telegraph.


Some of the searches included "spy", "lawyer costs", "keeping away from the law" and "disappear in Sweden," according to court documents published by Sweden's Aftonbladet tabloid.

They also researched how to permanently delete files from a phone and how to purge data from messaging apps, the outlet said.

After his older brother's arrest, Payam "dismantled and broke a hard drive which was later found in a trash can," AP reported.

Peyman's lawyer said he is planning to appeal the sentence, while the younger brother has not decided yet whether to appeal, AP reported.