Former Internal Security Service director Jüri Pihl said that he recommended that all former KGB personnel be put out to pasture six years ago and that accused spy Vladimir Veitman was the only one not to be discharged.
Pihl, who was interior minister at the time he gave the instructions - the wording and conditionality of which are not clear - says the recommendation was disregarded in the case of Vladimir Veitman, who is the latest national security agency employee to be accused of spying for Russia.
Pihl's instructions were made to then ISS (KaPo) director Raivo Aeg in 2007, Postimees reported.
"In 2007-2008, everyone who had come to work for KaPo had a chance to retire. I will maintain steadfastly that such an order was given to the then heads of KaPo: when necessary restructuring is carried out in the organization, the people who have done their work should go on pension," Pihl said.
Pihl told Eesti Päevaleht that he learned after some time had passed that indeed there had been a house-cleaning at the ISS but that Veitman was the one staffer from that era who had escaped the ax.
Aeg told Postimees in response to Pihl's claims that he could not comment on instructions received from higher-ups, as it was information for official use only, and some of them could still be subject to state secrets rules.
"As to his request that officials with a former KGB background be quickly retired, Jüri Pihl is projecting his own thoughts here, not official instructions," said Aeg.