Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called CEO of Trüb Baltic, Andres Lehmann, a racist and a Nazi in a post on social media on Thursday. Trüb Baltic is the Estonian representative of digital security company Gemalto and supplies the state-issued ID cards.
Also in a social media post, Lehmann wrote earlier that "In the European North, the midsummer heralds the long summer holiday break that lasts till end of August. (...) Letting this warning emerge in June certainly would have spoiled summer vacations. I can fully understand why the authorities gave in the seduction and kept quiet." [sic]
Lehmann was referring to a warning he claims to have given to the Estonian authorities in June this year about a security risk concerning hundreds of thousands of Estonian ID cards. The Information System Authority (RIA) and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) have categorically rejected Lehmann's claim, saying that they didn't receive a warning in June.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Thursday only confirmed that the authorities hadn't received "a digitally signed document" in the way the state's contract with Gemalto demands it, but avoided journalists' more specific questions whether or not beyond such a document, RIA and PPA had been aware of the flaw.
Ilves's reaction to Lehmann's social media post was scathing: "This patronizing talk of 'long summers', northerners taking 2.5 months off as the reason no one allegedly paid attention to our warning, is rather racist, here in Silicon Valley, some might even say it's 'nazi'. I certainly would," Ilves wrote.
"Frankly, you should resign, but since you already are the way you are, your company should fire you for this kind of talk," Ilves added.
He then doubled down, saying that "Perhaps the whole problem comes from the culture of Gemalto. After all, those Estonians are just a bunch of Ost-Untermenschen, we can simply patronize them and pass all our screw-ups on to them and their East or Northern European need for vacations."
He went on to call Lehmann's tone "revolting", and said that his company should issue a formal apology for this kind of "tripe".
Andres Lehmann has lived in Estonia since 2003. He speaks Estonian fluently, and for some time now has been the honorary consul of Switzerland to Estonia. He remained CEO of Trüb Baltic AS after international digital security giant Gemalto took over its Swiss parent company.
Lehmann claims to have informed the Estonian authorities of the security issue with the chips on the Estonian ID cards supplied by his company well ahead of the point at which they decided to inform the public.
The Information System Authority (RIA) and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) waited until after the Oct. 15 elections to start addressing the issue in practice. Since then, close to 300,000 people have responded to the problem by updating their cards' security certificates.
PPA has made additional efforts as well to help people update their certificates, including putting up service points in shopping malls in Estonia's four largest cities where people could get the update done.
The affected cards remain valid as a physical proof of identification until their individual expiration date. Certificates can be renewed until Mar. 31 next year, after that applying for a new card will be required.
Editor: Dario Cavegn