Swedish Cold War Spy Dies
Sweden’s most notorious Cold War spy Stig Wennerström, known to his Soviet spymasters by the codename ”The Eagle”, has died at the age of 99.
The Wennerström case was Sweden’s most serious case of espionage.
He was arrested in Sweden in June 1963, convicted of four counts of treason and sentenced to life in prison after having confessed to being a spy for the Soviets since 1948.
By the time Wennerström was caught he had supplied Moscow with substantial details of Sweden’s air defence systems, and passed on NATO secrets which he gathered as Swedish air attache in Washington between 1952 and 1957 and as staff officer at the Swedish ministry of defence.
But he was pardoned and released in 1974 after authorities said the information he had obtained during his time as a spy was obsolete.
There has been much speculation about Wennerström’s motives, with some guessing he may have needed money to feed a gambling addiction, and others that he was a devout communist, though those explanations were later dismissed.
One retired general in Swedish intelligence claimed that Wennerström had been blackmailed by the Russians. Wennerström himself explains in his autobiography that he sold the secrets to further world peace.
Two years before his death, Wennerström said in an interview with a Swedish magazine that he did not regret a thing and would have acted in exactly the same way if given the opportunity to live his life again.
Wennerström died in a home for the elderly outside Stockholm last week.