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Estonia To Consider Early Release of Ex-Defense Official Who Spied For Russia

A former high-ranking Estonian defense official convicted of spying for Russia may be released early from prison when a court on October 29 is expected to rule on the matter.

Estonia’s public broadcaster ERR reported on October 20 that a court in the university urban center of Tartu, the NATO and EU-member’s second largest city, will decide whether to truncate Herman Simm's 12-1/2-year prison term.

Simm, 72, was convicted in February 2009 for handing Russia highly-sensitive, confidential documents related to NATO since 2004, the year Estonia joined the alliance.

He was also found guilty of providing his Russian intelligence handlers with more than 3,000 secret documents related to the Estonian government.

German magazine Der Spiegel, citing a classified 141-page NATO report on the spy scandal, has described Simm as the spy who was the "most damaging in Alliance history."

Some of the NATO documents Simm passed on contained highly-sensitive information about the alliance’s secret defense policies, "including installation, maintenance, procurement and use of cryptographic systems,” Der Spiegel reported in May 2010.

When he was arrested in September 2009, Simm was head of the National Security Authority within Estonia’s Defense Ministry.

Based on reporting by ERR and Der Spiegel