Estonian court to release defense official who spied for Russia for 13 years

Herman SimmA court in Estonia has ordered the release of a former senior defense official who spied on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for Russia, causing what experts described at the time as “the most serious case of espionage against NATO since the end of the Cold War”. Herman Simm was a high-level official at the Estonian Ministry of Defense, who once led the country’s National Security Authority. This meant that he was in charge of Estonia’s national cyber defense systems and supervised the issuing of security clearances.

He was arrested in 2008 along with his wife and charged with spying for Russia for over a decade. At the time of his arrest Simm was responsible for handling all of Estonia’s classified and top secret material regarding NATO. This prompted European and American security officials to describe Simm as the most damaging spy against NATO since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In February of 2009 Simm was sentenced to 12½ years in prison.

On Thursday, a county court in Estonia’s southeastern city of Tartu ruled that Simm is eligible for parole, because he has served the majority of his prison sentence without committing any disciplinary infractions. Officials from the Tartu County Prison and the prosecutor’s office agreed that early release would provide Simm with an incentive to abide with Estonian law. The court also stated in its decision that Simm had no more access to classified information and that he was of no further interest to foreign countries and intelligence organizations.

Simm is expected to be released within days, and will remain under probation until March of 2021. The court’s decision can be appealed by December 20.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 06 December 2019 | Permalink

NATO spy convicted by Estonian court

Herman Simm

Herman Simm

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Herman Simm, the Estonian spy who handed classified NATO material to Russia, has been convicted to 12.5 years’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $1.6 million for damages he caused while spying for the Russians. Simm, a high-level official at the Estonian defense ministry, who once headed the country’s National Security Authority, was arrested last November along with his wife and charged with spying for Russia for over 10 years. At the time of his arrest, Simm’s spying activities were described by Western counterintelligence officials as perhaps “the most serious case of espionage against NATO since the end of the Cold War”. Read more of this post

Tallinn government surveillance cameras reveal black bag operation

A surveillance camera monitoring the City Government building in Estonian capital Tallinn has recorded nighttime images of what appears to be a black bag operation by either Kaitsepolitseiamet (KPol), the country’s  Security Police, or by Russian intelligence. Black bag operations refer to covert, surreptitious entries into structures in the course of human intelligence missions. Responding to allegations by Tallinn mayor, Edgar Savisaar, the country’s public prosecutor disclosed that KPol officers had surreptitiously entered the building to “remove secret microphones” from the office of Ivo Parbus, an adviser to the city’s deputy mayor, who has been arrested in connection with a bribing scandal. However, Tallinn’s mayor says that he does not believe the break-in to have been authorized by KPol, and that “he has information that one [of the] person[s seen] entering the building is a former spy of the Russian army”. Read more of this post

Estonian sleeper agent may have been double spy, say Germans

Herman Simm

Herman Simm

Last month, Estonian counterintelligence agents arrested Herman Simm, a high-level official at the Estonian defense ministry, on charges that he spied on behalf of Russian intelligence for nearly 30 years. At the time, Western counterintelligence officials said Simm, who was in charge of handling all of Estonia’s “classified and top secret material on NATO”, was at the center of “the most serious case of espionage against NATO since the end of the Cold War”. But the complexity of this espionage affair has now increased, with German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reporting that Simm was also a paid informant of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence service. Read more of this post

Russian Sleeper Agent Caught Spying on NATO

For the past year many in the know have been suspecting that the sophisticated Russian diplomatic maneuvers on the US missile defense shield are built on inside information on the project. Now a number of reports have emerged in the British press, pointing to a busting of what is probably an extensive network of Russian-handled spies in Estonia. Herman Simm, a high-level official at the Estonian defense ministry, has been arrested along with his wife on charges that he spied on behalf of Russian intelligence for over 10 years. Estonian and Western counterintelligence are still after his handler, who is known as “the Spaniard” because of his cover as a Spanish entrepreneur. Simm, who is described as a “sleeper” agent, was probably at the center of what can be said to be “the most serious case of espionage against NATO since the end of the Cold War”. This is not only because he was “responsible for handling all his country’s classified and top secret material on NATO”, but also because he was in charge of Estonia’s relatively advanced national cyber defense systems, as well as “for many years in charge of issuing security clearance[s]”. Perhaps more importantly, he is said to have been privy to crucial NATO information pertaining to the US missile shield project. No wonder an anonymous German official has described this latest Russian penetration of NATO as a “catastrophe”. This is not the first spy story to emerge out of Estonia since the end of the Cold War. Insiders will remember a story from ten years ago of a high-ranking Estonian police officer who defected to Britain on the run from FSB agents who were blackmailing him for recruitment purposes. [IA]

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