Investigation reveals human-caused damage on Estonia-Sweden submarine cable

  • 2023-11-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) has discovered traces of human-caused damage on an Estonia-Sweden submarine cable, the circumstances of which are being further investigated in the same criminal case that is examining damages to an Estonia-Finland submarine cable, in addition, the Public Prosecutor's Office has also prepared a request for legal assistance to the People's Republic of China.

State Prosecutor Triinu Olev stated that it is now possible to closely examine the Estonia-Sweden submarine cable, which showed signs of human-caused damage. 

"With the Estonia-Sweden submarine cable, it was known that human-made tracks were present on the seabed near the cable, and its transmission capacity was disrupted for some time. As the telecom operator restored the cable's capacity after the incident, the cable could not have been completely broken. To thoroughly investigate the submarine cable to determine whether there are human-caused damages or traces indicating such, we had to wait for weather conditions that would allow an underwater investigation. Now, the ISS investigators have been able to closely examine the cable and confirmed that the Estonia-Sweden submarine cable has been damaged due to human activity," Olev explained.

The circumstances of the damages caused to the Estonia-Sweden submarine cable are being determined in the same criminal investigation that is examining the Estonia-Finland submarine cable damage. Investigators are still working with various theories, gathering additional evidence to confirm or rule them out. The main theory suggests that the damage to both the Estonia-Finland and Estonia-Sweden submarine cables is related to the Hong Kong-flagged vessel Newnew Polar Bear.

"According to the data collected in the criminal investigation, the vessel belongs to a company registered in China, and since the vessel is not in Estonian waters, the ISS cannot carry out any investigative actions with the ship or people on board. Therefore, we have prepared a request for legal assistance to China, so that their law enforcement agencies would conduct investigative actions related to the ship and its crew as part of international cooperation to assist in clarifying the circumstances," Olev said.

Currently, it is not known which countries will need to be involved in further cooperation during the criminal investigation. The Russian submarine cable damaged in Finnish waters is not related to the Estonian criminal investigation and does not affect it. The criminal investigation related to the damage of the gas pipeline is being conducted by Finnish law enforcement authorities.