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Espionage and conviction
Bergling was employed at SÄPO, the Swedish Security Service, and worked in the surveillance department. Bergling was also an officer in the military reserves and for a short period he was working at the Defence Staff where he stole secret documents about Swedish military installations which he sold to the GRU, the military intelligence of the Soviet Union.
During a UN mission in Lebanon in 1973, he sold the documents to the GRU. When he came back home, he continued his espionage by delivering information about SÄPO's operations in Sweden. SÄPO soon discovered there was a leak and after some time the suspicions pointed towards Bergling, even if there was no proof. He once again applied for service in the UN but was arrested in Israel on March 20, 1979 for spying for the Soviet Union.
On December 7, 1979, he was convicted in Sweden and sentenced to life in prison for treason.
Escape from prison
During the time in prison, he changed his name to Stig Svante Eugen Sandberg. On October 6, 1987 while on leave from the correctional institution in Norrköping, Sweden, he and his wife, Elisabeth, managed to escape. From Rinkeby where Elisabeth lived, via Åland they got to Helsinki, Finland where Bergling contacted the Soviet Embassy and managed to get help to flee to the Soviet Union. Under the alias of Ivar and Elisabeth Straus, they lived for a while in Moscow, and later in Hungary. However, in autumn of 1990 as Soviet Union was collapsing, they were moved to Lebanon. In August 1994, the couple returned to Sweden voluntarily. Bergling spent three years in prison until his release in July 1997.
In the summer of 2006, Bergling joined the Swedish Left Party, but he left the party in September later that same year.
Since the end of the 1990s, Bergling has suffered from Parkinson's disease.
- Convicted Spy for Russians Sought After Sweden Escape (English), The New York Times, October 10, 1987