STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Stig Bergling, one of Sweden's most notorious Cold War spies who sold details of its defenses to the Soviet Union in the 1970s, has died at the age of 77, Swedish media reported on Thursday.
Bergling stole top secret defense documents while he was working for the Swedish security service, handing them to a Soviet military intelligence agent in Beirut.
He was arrested by Israeli secret agents while traveling through Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport in 1979 and flown back to Sweden, where he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1987, while on supervised leave from prison, Bergling escaped by slipping out the backdoor of his wife's suburban Stockholm apartment. He fled Sweden with his wife for adjacent Finland, from where he was smuggled into the Soviet Union.
Sweden's then-Justice Minister Sten Wickbom was forced to resign over the affair.
Bergling lived in Moscow, Budapest and then in Lebanon before he and his wife decided to return to Sweden in 1994, where he was then jailed. He served a further three years in prison before being released in 1997.
(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Alistair Scrutton/Mark Heinrich)