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  1. #1
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    Default The Estonian Spy Case - Herman Simm

    Ran into this in a newsletter I receive. It is also very relevant to NATO.

    IHT
    Estonia: Ex-security official accused of spying
    The Associated Press Published: September 22, 2008

    TALLINN, Estonia: The former head of security at the Estonian Defense Ministry has been arrested, suspected of spying, an official said Monday.

    Gerrit Maesalu, a spokesman for prosecutor Lavly Lepp, said the Harju county court on Sunday issued a warrant to arrest Herman Simm, 61, on suspicion of treason. ....
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/...y-Suspects.php

    Kommersant
    Sep. 23, 2008
    ........
    Estonian police have arrested high-ranking member of the Defense Ministry Herman Simm on accusations of espionage. His wife Heete Simm, a police lawyer, faces similarly charges. Estonian authorities have not named the country the couple were providing information to, but Estonian media and local experts claim it was Russia. Herman Simm, 61, was responsible for military secrets. In spite of several earlier claims by the government of Russian espionage operations in the country, this is the first spy case in the modern history of the country in which an actual agent has been identified......
    http://www.kommersant.com:80/p103016...onage_Estonia/

    bbn
    Procecutors seize property of suspected Russian spy Herman Simm
    Toomas Hõbemägi
    25.09.2008 08:39
    Public prosecutor Lavly Lepp has arrested all assets of Herman Simm and his wife who are suspected of having spied for Russians.

    Eesti Päevaleht writes that the objective is to restrict transactions with the real estate owed by Simm who is believed to have fed NATO secrets to Russians for years as head of security department of Estonian Ministry of Defence.

    According to the real estate registry, Simms own seven properties including large land holdings in Raplamaa, Suure-Jaani, Ida-Virumaa, Saue, Padise and Pärnu. Among others, the prosecutor seized his 500 square metre apartment near Tallinn.
    http://www.balticbusinessnews.com/De...307e2c&ref=rss

    Herman Simm Wiki Bio

    Herman Simm (born May 29, 1947 in Suure-Jaani) is a former chief the Estonian Defence Ministry's security department. On September 21, 2008, Simm was arrested with his wife Heete Simm on suspiction of illegal collecting and communicating classified information for Russia. In spite of several earlier claims by the government of Russian espionage operations in the country,[1] the Simm case is the first since the restoration of Estonia's independence in 1991 in which an actual agent has been identified and declared suspect in treason.[2] The criminal case is processed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and by the Security Police Board who co-operate with the Information Board and with the Ministry of Defence. According to the Penal Code, treason is punished with an imprisonment of three to fifteen years.[3] ......
    .....
    [1] Estonia Catches Its First Spy, Kommersant, September 23, 2008.
    [2] Estonia: Ex-security official accused of spying, The International Herald Tribune, September 22, 2008.
    [3] Law of Penalty of the Repblic of Estonia, §232.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Simm

  2. #2
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    Default Fallout from Herman Simm .....

    views differ for various reasons, discussed here.

    Baltic Times
    NEWS
    Treason: the real cost of Simm’s betrayal
    Oct 01, 2008
    ....
    TALLINN - While some fear Estonia’s reputation as a NATO partner has been tarnished and others believe it’s stronger, most agree that national defense has been severely compromised by a deviant individual and some suspect widespread espionage. But where exactly does Estonia stand after Herman Simm’s treason?

    Ask any Estonian whether Russia should be perceived as a threat and the answer is nearly always the same: Yes. The notion that history repeats itself seems deeply ingrained in the thoughts of Baltic citizens, and given the lengthy and disastrous consequences of the Soviet occupation, this hardly comes as a surprise.

    With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the nation has bestowed upon Simm the status of public enemy number one. There’s nothing redeemable about selling state secrets to a nation’s long-term oppressor, especially when residual skepticism of Russia has existed in the Baltic states since their independence in the early ’90s.

    Even more alarming, a British former civil servant has informed The Baltic Times that this might not be a one-off case, but part of a wider breach of national security. .....
    http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/21475/

    The 3-15 year sentence range for treason and espionage (noted in OP and in above article) seems a bit light - no.

  3. #3
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default

    Not too sure how to comment here as I worked right next door to him for several years. Honestly, the only thing I ever saw pass his desk was EFTO

    Our PFP and subsequent NATO days had me pining away for a job at the local kindergarten (although the free trips to Paris and Brussels were not that bad during the winter months). He may (now) be a modern day Russian puke, but a spy and seller of secrets?

    If he and his better half get 15 years, they'll both have died of natural causes before their time runs out. Gotta be something better to do with them than tie up the judiciary system, having 60 year-old folk watching videos in prison
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Default Stay safe ...

    from Stan
    ... as I worked right next door to him for several years ...
    you might be called as a witness for one side or the other. Should I get out my Miranda card ?

    Seriously, you make a couple of good points.

    ... but a spy and seller of secrets?
    Not an unusual reaction of neighbors in espionage - and other - cases, for that matter. The innocent person will appear to be, well, innocent; but so also the agent (assuming he or she has any tradecraft).

    So, I'll wait on the evidence - realizing that US prosecutors usually do not pull the trigger on these cases unless they have good evidence - the case itself raises too much bad PR for the nation to be other than very careful.

    Gotta be something better to do with them than tie up the judiciary system...
    If they are innocent, then they should tough it out. At least, that is what I would tell them.

    If they are guilty (which I would not directly ask them), their solution is to work a plea bargain - giving up everything they know. If they are candid, damage assessment is easier and would justify a lighter sentence.

    You're right about another thing - facing prison in your 60s ain't the way to go.

  5. #5
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default 1,000 Euros per month - Secretly

    The latest in the Simm case made it to the papers this morning. Declaring Simm received 1,000 euros a month (but without indicating just how long he had received payments, or, how he received them).

    The Interior Minister is quoted as saying Simm did not lead a luxurious lifestyle, but continued, that one can purchase smaller things and need not purchase land to be rich.

    The amount of these payments has now cast doubt among both the defense and prosecuting attorneys as quoted in Õhtuleht.

    EDIT:
    Yet another paper (considered the source of the above article) indicates that the justice department would not have arrested Simm based on the facts above. Päevaleht also discloses Simm's MOD salary and Police pension. Both figures much larger than what he is accused of secretly receiving.

    Not looking good for a spy novel !
    Last edited by Stan; 10-15-2008 at 09:21 AM. Reason: second link and story
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Default Odd case ...

    there (must be ?) (should be ?) more meat.

    1. His real estate holdings (much cited in initial articles) seem to be family, at least in part:

    Estonia's spy scandal hits relatives of Herman Simm
    Toomas Hõbemägi
    17.10.2008 09:32
    ....
    Several properties that belong to the alleged spy Herman Simm and were seized by the prosecutor were co-owned by his relatives.
    .....
    According to the real estate registry, Simms own seven properties including large land holdings in Raplamaa, Suure-Jaani, Ida-Virumaa, Saue, Padise and Pärnu. Among others, the prosecutor seized his 500 square metre apartment near Tallinn.

    For instance Paul and Martin Künnap, the sons of his stepsister, are co-owning three properties with Simm. The three own 100 hectares of agricultural land in Viljandimaa that historically belonged to Herman Simm’s father and were returned to Simm.

    Paul Künnap said that they have been taking steps to divide the properties. “This process has now stopped because of the seizure of properties.”
    http://balticbusinessnews.com/Defaul...ment=1#comment

    2. As to the money, the English language article is too laconic - here

    As I glean Estonian (which ain't much), the key parts to the money story are here:

    Päevalehe andmetel sai Herman Simm võõrriigile edastatud salajase teabe eest 1000 eurot ehk 15 600 krooni kuus, mis teeb pisut alla 200 000 krooni aastas.
    ....
    Palk oli suurem

    18 000 krooni kuus

    teenis Herman Simm viimati kaitseministeeriumis. Sellele lisandus politseipension.

    50 000 krooni kuus

    teenis Simmide perekond ametlikult kokku.
    So, eminent translator of things Estonian and Lingala, traduction, s.v.p.

    --------------
    Odd that he would have admitted to the espionage as some stories have said. Wonder if that is true ?

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