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Estonia Convicts Security Officer of Spying for Russia

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- An Estonian court convicted a former security official of treason and jailed him for 15 years for passing secrets to Russia in the Baltic state’s third such case since 2009.

Vladimir Veitman, who was an officer for the KGB under communist rule, began cooperating with Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service in 2002 when working as a “technical operations specialist” in Estonia’s security police, the country’s prosecutor’s office said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday.

“The Harju County Court found Vladimir Veitman guilty of treason, passing on official information and revealing state secrets,” the prosecutors’ office said.

Estonia’s government accused Russia of interfering in local politics earlier this month after a candidate for mayor of the capital, Tallinn, was placed on Interpol’s wanted list on the eve of municipal elections. Still, relations between the two countries have improved since 2007, when the worst riots since the former Soviet republic’s 1991 independence broke out over the relocation of a Soviet statue in Tallinn. Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a draft border treaty with Estonia this month.

Veitman, 63, began working for the KGB in 1980 and then switched to Estonia’s security services, which hired former KGB workers after independence on the condition they would not take part in planning or leading operations. He retired in 2011.

He agreed to a “compromise trial procedure” by not contesting the charges, the prosecutor’s office said. He was ordered in a closed-door trial to pay 65,000 euros ($89,100) in damages to security police after authorities confiscated 120,000 euros in “criminal revenue” during the investigation.

Estonia jailed a former high-ranking defense official for 12 1/2 years for treason in 2009 after he passed secrets to Russian intelligence, the country’s first spying case since 1991. It convicted an ex-senior police official of similar crimes last June.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at oummelas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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