Thursday, December 25, 2008

Estonia Spy Case Rattles Nerves at NATO

Ellen Barry writes in The New York Times:

As an independent state emerged here after 47 years of Soviet rule, a jovial, meticulous police official named Herman Simm was promoted again and again. By 2001, he occupied a post that satisfied his fascination with secrets: As chief of the National Security Authority, his job was to secure all classified communication between Estonia and its allies.

And prosecutors say they have established why he was so interested in secrets: They believe he was passing information to an undercover agent for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. The contact is identified in documents as “Jesus” and is likely to be a citizen of Portugal, said Mr. Simm’s defense lawyer, Owe Ladva.

Though the authorities have not said when they believe the spying began, Mr. Simm was in place during a critical period, from 2001 to 2006, as Estonia became a member of NATO and Moscow’s frustration at the Western military alliance grew into a hostile standoff. He was arrested in September on suspicion of treason.

More here.


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