An Estonian official who passed Nato and other defence and diplomatic secrets to Russia was jailed for more than 12 years on Wednesday, ending what investigators called “the biggest ever spy scandal in Nato history”.
Herman Simm, 61, handed over more than 2,000 pages of information to his handlers in Russia’s SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, according to documents linked to the investigation.
EU diplomats said the Estonian spy had also seriously compromised the EU’s internal security procedures. “He had total access to Nato and EU stuff and was handing everything he could find to his Russian handlers,” one EU diplomat said.
Mr Simm worked at the Estonian defence ministry from 1995 to 2006 and had access to top secret documents, including those related to Nato, which Estonia joined in 2004.
An Estonian district court said it had convicted Mr Simm of state treason and passing on classified information and jailed him for 12 years and six months.
Nato officials in Brussels said they never commented on intelligence matters. But sources in Brussels conceded that Mr Simm’s activities had caused serious damage to the 26-member alliance.
“As Simm had access to classified Nato documents, it is the biggest ever spy scandal in Nato history,” Raivo Aeg, chief of Estonia’s security police said.
“The activities of Herman Simm were a risk not just to Estonia but to our partners,” said Mati Raidma, head of parliament’s defence committee, after the verdict.
“But on the positive side, it was a good sign that our security services and our processes worked well to find him and bring him to justice,” he said. Mr Simm’s wife was arrested with him in September, but was later released without charge.