MOSCOW – A former KGB officer who worked for two decades in Estonia’s Internal Security Service has been arrested on suspicion of collecting classified information and passing it on to the Russian government, the chief of the Estonian security service said Friday.
Vladimir Veitman, who worked for the KGB from 1980 until the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, was hired by the Estonian service that year because he was skilled at operating sophisticated equipment, chief Arnold Sinisalu told a press conference.
Veitman was recruited by Russian intelligence “much later,” the chief said, adding that the suspect passed on confidential information until 2011. Vietman faces charges of high treason and espionage, punishable by up to life in prison. Vietman was detained Wednesday, and his arrest was sanctioned by a court on Friday, placing him in pretrial custody for up to six months, Sinisalu said.
In recent years, two Estonians have been convicted and given lengthy prison terms for high treason and spying for Russia in the small Baltic nation of 1.3 million. Last July, a former officer in the Estonian security service was sentenced to 16 years behind bars for collecting information for Russia’s Federal Security Service, a KGB successor agency.
In 2009, a high-ranking official in Estonia’s Defense Ministry was sentenced to 12 1/2 years for working with Russia’s foreign intelligence.