Spy scandal to influence Russia-Sweden relations - ministry

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MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that a recent spy scandal in Sweden involving a Russian national might influence bilateral relations.

"We are treating the incident as a serious matter. Such incidents cannot but influence our relations with Sweden," the Foreign Ministry said.

Police detained a 30-year-old Russian who was working as an assistant at an agricultural university in Uppsala researching plant viruses on February 15.

"We have asked for details on the incident from the Swedish authorities," the ministry said. "Russian Embassy officers in Stockholm have met with the detained man and provided him consular assistance."

The ministry said Russian concerns had been conveyed to the director general for Political Affairs of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Olof Skog.

Anders Thornberg, press service chief of Sweden's counter-espionage service (SAPO), confirmed in a telephone interview Tuesday that the Russian had been detained on suspicion of espionage in Uppsala last Wednesday.

A local court ruled Friday that the Russian should be remanded in custody for two weeks while police conduct a preliminary investigation. In two weeks' time, the findings will be reported to the court, which is to decide whether to extend the researcher's detention or release him.

Earlier, a local newspaper quoted Swedish Chief Prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand as saying that the Russian was being held on suspicion of spying for a certain country, but did not name which one.

Lindstrand did not detail on the scale of damage allegedly caused by the detainee, but said his activities could have a negative effect on Sweden's security and defense capabilities.

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