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Kert: Simm may have been spying for decades

  • 2008-12-18
  • TBT Staff in cooperation with BNS

Simm's treachery, which may have been going on for decades, has left Norway worried about security breaches.

TALLINN 's Theformer commander of the Estonian defense forces, Johannes Kert, has said thathe believes Herman Simm may have been acting as a spy since the early 90s, theEstonian-language daily Eesti Paevaleht reported.

Simm is a former senior Defense Ministry official who is nowunder investigation for treason in what has become the largest espionage caseto hit the Baltics since the countries regained independence.

According to Kert, he got an inkling of Simm's involvement in shady dealingsin connection with a special course for the defense forces senior command in Finlandfrom March 1998 till May 1999. Simm was at that time head of the DefenseMinistry's secret information protection service.

Kert said the start of the course was delayed by a few weeks without advancenotice, which is most unusual in the Finnish military.

"Towards the end of the course I got an explanation for this. Namely, arumor had been leaked to Finland that I as the then commander of the Estonian defense forces could not betrusted because the Americans had decided not to admit me to a previouslyagreed-upon training in the United States," Kert told the paper.

What actually happened was that the U.S.training was postponed by then President Lennart Meri as the supreme commanderof the defense forces, Kert explained. It took the Finnish special servicessome time to verify the information and once the circumstances were clear thecourse could go ahead.

"It turned out that the information discrediting the commander of the Estonian defense forces was spread in Finlandby Herman Simm," he added.

WIDER IMPLICATION

Norway'snational security body, meanwhile, has launched an investigation to discoverthe extent of damage caused by the former high-ranking Estonian defense official now under investigation for suspectedtreason, the Norwegian daily Aftenposten reported.

Herman Simm for years had access to highly classified Norwegian documentsand he was also very well informed about Norwegian and NATO computer protectionsystems and knew the codes used in exchanges between the NATO headquarters inBrussels and Oslo, the paper says.

Simm, former head of the EstonianDefense Ministry's secret information unit, also had access to secret dataNorway sent to the NATO headquarters such as information about troops inAfghanistan and ships performing NATO duties.

NSM chief Geir A. Samuelsen said the suspected treachery may have given ablow to both the security of cooperation within the alliance and to Norwaythat has engaged in particularly close cooperation with Estonian security agencies.