Foreign service, not ISS gave Kallas classified foreign intel clearance

Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet) logo.
Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet) logo. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

While the Internal Security Service (ISS) conducted its first and only security clearance check on Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) ahead of her ascending to that post in early 2021, it was another authority, the Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet).

The Foreign Intelligence Service has not itself conducted a security check on the Prime Minister itself

The issue has been brought to the limelight in the wake of revelations that the prime minister's husband, Arvo Hallik, had a near 25-percent stake in a logistics company which was conveying manufactured items, made by a related Estonian firm, to the Russian Federation. This continued after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began over 18 months ago, and down to the present.

The items exported, components which go to make aerosol cans, were then assembled by a third, related firm, inside Russia. Complete aerosol cans are sanctioned.

The ISS first conducted a security screening of Kallas in early 2021 when she became prime minister. Since then, the ISS, known in Estonian by the acronym Kapo, has not conducted further security checks.

Kallas reentered office in July 2022 heading up the Reform-SDE-Isamaa coalition, and then again in April of this year as head of the current Reform-Eesti 200-SDE administration.

The required NATO and EU classified access clearance was, after the ISS check, issued to Kallas, when she assumed office, by the Foreign Intelligence Service.

The Foreign Intelligence Service told ERR that in 2023 the prime minister had been briefed by its authorized representative of state security regarding the e-environment for applying for the NATO and EU access certification.

The service said that the prime minister was aware of her responsibilities regarding the protection of classified foreign information, and on this basis she was issued with the clearance.

Martin Arpo, ISS Deputy Director General, told ERR that the clearance required to access classified NATO information needs a security check, which is in most cases carried out his authority, and, in some cases by the Foreign Intelligence Service. There are specific cases in which it is handled by the latter. The certificate is issued by an authorized representative of national security, which is part of the Foreign Intelligence Service's tasks, he said.

A certificate of access to classified foreign information can only be obtained by an individual who already has current, valid clearance to access state secrets.

In an interview with Delfi journalist Vilja Kiisler on Monday, Delfi journalist Vilja Kiisler in an interview that the ISS subjected her husband to a full security check.  The PM also said that the security service has not discussed her husband's business activity with her in any context.

Meanwhile daily Postimees wrote on Wednesday that the ISS had a security interview with Kaja Kallas' husband, Arvo Hallik (link in Estonian).

The ISS stressed that it was not a security check, which is a more specific operation and can only be performed in respect of an individual who applies for security clearance. Since he was not a public figure, Hallik would not have made such an application.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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