Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Estonia Catches Its First Spy

(Kommersant-Sep. 23, 2008)

Estonian police have arrested high-ranking member of the Defense Ministry, Herman Simm, on accusations of espionage. His wife Heete Simm, a police lawyer, faces similarly charges. Estonian authorities have not named the country the couple were providing information to, but Estonian media and local experts claim it was Russia. Herman Simm, 61, was responsible for military secrets. In spite of several earlier claims by the government of Russian espionage operations in the country, this is the first spy case in the modern history of the country in which an actual agent has been identified.
The Simms were arrested on Sunday after the state prosecutor petitioned the court. The investigation is being carried out by the Estonian state prosecutor, security police, information department (foreign intelligence service) and Defense Ministry. Herman Simm began working for the Estonian Defense Ministry in 1995 as head of the information analysis bureau. In 2000, he became head of the newly created service responsible for guaranteeing secrecy at the ministry. Simm’s activities may have damaged interests other than just Estonian. From 2001 to 2006, he was the authorized state security representative and regularly conducted negotiations on the protection of secrecy with NATO and EU member states as head of the Estonian delegation. He was issued a diplomatic passport in 2003. He left that position in 2006 but continued to work as an advisor to the Defense Ministry and continued to have access to secret information. If convicted, the Simms face prison terms of 3 to 15 years.


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