(CNN) – Sweden has charged a 49-year-old Tibetan man with spying on fellow exiles on behalf of Beijing.
The man — who has not been named — is suspected of gathering information about exiles’ family relationships, addresses, political affiliations and meetings with the intent to “pass this information to representatives of the Chinese state,” authorities said Wednesday, according to CNN affiliate Expressen.
Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said the man’s alleged spying occurred between July 2015 and February 2017, and the information was transmitted to Chinese officials in Poland and Finland.
Ljungqvist said the man was himself of Tibetan descent and had been spying “for a long time, and may have caused or may cause a large number of persons serious harm.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Thursday it was “not aware of the situation.” Swedish authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jamyang Choedon, president of the Tibetan Community in Sweden organization, told CNN many in the community were left feeling “very, very scared” by the news.
“We were all shocked,” she said. “There are only about 140 Tibetans in Sweden. That the (Chinese government) is sending a spy for just 140 people is almost comical.”
But many exiles still have family in Tibet, she added, and they could be at risk if they were deemed to be engaged in activities critical of Beijing.
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