The cell door has slammed on Aleksei Dressen for the next 16 years, but the convicted spy for Russia is just one in a long line of those approached by the eastern neighbor's intelligence services, says director general of the National Security Agency (KAPO) Raivo Aeg.
"We can't say the exact figures, but we know that there have been quite many unsuccessful recruitment attempts," he told Eesti Päevaleht.
"Certainly it wasn't among the first attempts to approach KAPO personnel. We have talked in our yearbooks as well about the fact that security institutions' employees are among the most attractive to foreign intelligence. I can confirm that notifying about such attempts is the only way to avoid compromising oneself," said Aeg.
"The fact that Dressen did not report first contacts allowed the FSB to manipulate him," he added.
Ultimately, Aeg said, the FSB failed in concealing both Dressen and Simm's role as agent. He said the FSB should not be "mystified" as some sinister, omniscient force.
In specific comments on the Dressen case, Aeg said the agent's weakness was for money, and the time that Dressen agreed to be on the FSB payroll coincided with a period of professional setbacks for him on the KAPO staff.
In speaking about damage done, Aeg also said that Dressen was assigned to dealing with extremists (meaning Russian-speaking antigovernment groups) in Estonia and due to his lack of proficiency in Western European languages, his work was limited to dealings in Russian. Damage control is built into the KAPO hierarchy, Aeg said, and "even at the height of his career as the head of a department, 11 years ago, Dressen was quite far from having an all-encompasing 'need to know.'"
One area in which Dressen was unique was that his wife's parents lived in Russia, and Dressen was permitted to travel to Russia in 1998 - a rare exception to the rule for KAPO personnel.