Estonian jailed for spying for Russia denied parole
MOSCOW, January 29 (RAPSI) – The Tartu Circuit Court in Estonia has dismissed a request filed by Herman Simm, former head of the Estonian Defense Ministry’s Security Department, who is serving a prison sentence for treason, to release him on parole, Interfax reported on Thursday.
Simm and his wife, Heete Simm, were arrested in September 2008 on suspicion of collecting classified information for an unidentified foreign government.
The Tartu court, which met behind closed doors, decided that Simm, who has served 6.5 years, or more than half of his 12.5-year-long sentence, should remain in prison because of the gravity of his crime, his behavior, the risk entailed and the purpose of the sentence.
The prison administration supported the parole motion, but the prosecutor’s office argued against it.
Under the law, he could hope for early release and electronic monitoring.
Simms has 10 days to appeal the court’s decision.
On February 25, 2009, the Harju County Court sentenced Simm to 12.5 years in prison for collecting secret information and handing it to a foreign state. If he serves out his sentence, he will be released on March 18, 2021.
According to the verdict, Simm, who had access to most of the classified NATO documents his country received after joining the alliance in the spring of 2004, handed at least 3,294 secret documents to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Most of them concerned Estonia, but 386 documents contained highly sensitive information about EU and NATO secret defense policies, “including installation, maintenance, procurement and use of cryptographic systems.”
He had access to secret information which only five or six people in Estonia had, namely the president, the prime minister, the defense minister, the foreign minister and the commander of Estonia’s defense forces. NATO experts said it was the worst NATO security breach in post-Soviet history.