Tibetan leader praises Swedish ‘spy’ arrest
A Tibetan leader has called on other countries to follow Sweden’s example by prosecuting alleged spies who give China details on exiled Tibetans.
Sweden has charged a Tibetan exile, Dorjee Gyantsan, who was working for the newspaper Voice of Tibet, with espionage after China allegedly paid him for personal information about his fellow Tibetans.
Prosecutors said Gyantsan had “pretended to sympathise with Tibetans and Tibetan independence” to collect information.
A community representative in Sweden, Jamyang Choedon, said the action could “be an example for other countries”.
Tibetans are subjected to DNA collection, iris scans, mass surveillance, predictive software and re-education camps.
Uyghur exiles in Sweden have previously described ways they have been pressured by China to spy on each other.
The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who lives in exile in northern India, is seen by China as an insurgent.
Choedon said her community of about 140 Tibetans was “really shocked and a bit scared” by the case of Gyantsan.
Gyantsan, 49, has denied the charges, said his lawyer Mikael Soderberg. Since his arrest in February, Gyantsan is free but not allowed to leave Sweden.
Police said they found Gyanstan had “several identity cards with different identities”.
“We know him, he was actively taking part in the community,” Choedon told the BBC. “I never felt he was against the Dalai Lama. He has been in Sweden more than 10 years.
“We’re very thankful to the Swedish government that they are taking full steps. I hope all other countries do the same.”
The indictment claims Gyantsan spied on Tibetans in Sweden for “cash benefits” and that he met “a representative of the Chinese state repeatedly in Poland, in connection with this activity” between 2015 and 2017.
When Gyantsan was detained on returning from Warsaw, he was found to be carrying US$6,000 in cash.
“The offence is considered gross because it was systematic, in progress for a long time and may have caused many people serious harm,” the Swedish indictment said.
He faces a maximum jail term of four years.
Daniel Stenling of Sweden’s Sapo intelligence service said it had worked with other European police authorities to monitor Gyantsan’s activities.
He said Gyantsan had potentially committed “a very serious crime… 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”.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman denied knowledge of the case in Sweden.
Tibetan culture is systematically crushed by China. Picture credit: Flickr