Sept. 24, 2008

TALLINN – A former Estonian defense ministry official arrested for treason at the weekend is thought to have sold important NATO secrets to Russia, a report said Sept. 22.

“(Herman) Simm is suspected of carrying NATO’s biggest secrets to Russian intelligence,” Postimees daily said, without revealing its sources.

“This is an unbelievably embarrassing case,” an unnamed defense ministry official told the Estonian daily, which said Simm may have used a Spanish or Italian go-between.

Estonian officials have so far not detailed the treason charges against Simm, who was arrested on Sunday.

Another daily, the Eesti Paevaleht, reported that Simm had lost his privileged access to state secrets when Estonia’s NATO partners warned Tallinn about possible leaks.

“In November 2006 Simm was released from his duty as the head of state secret protection department at the defense ministry and got a job as an advisor to the ministry that didn’t include access to secrets any more,” it said.

Simm left the post in March.

A NATO spokeswoman at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels refused to comment on the case.

Simm’s wife, a police board lawyer, was also arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to treason.

Simm worked at different positions in Estonia’s defense ministry between 1995 and 2006.

He was one of a few key officials charged with setting up a security system to protect sensitive state information to prepare the 1.3 million-strong country’s entry into the European Union and NATO in 2004.

An ex-Soviet Baltic Sea republic, Estonia shed communism and broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.


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