Taking in treason suspects victory for counterintelligence services says PM

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas during an interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas during an interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The apprehension of two men suspected of treason against the Estonian state on Wednesday represents the culmination of some serious and professional work on the part of Estonian counterintelligence agencies and other authorities, says Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

"Today's [Wednesday's] news is an unequivocal message ‒ every offender will at some point be caught and every act of this kind will be punished," Mr. Ratas said, referring to the arrest of a father and son on suspicions of treason.

Deniss Metsavas, a former Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) officer, and his father Pjotr Volin were placed in custody on Wednesday by Harju County Court at the request of the Office of the Prosecutor General.

The activities, which allegedly involved passing classified and sensitive state information to Russian intelligence agencies, had been going on for at least five years, the prosecutor general stated in a press conference, during which time Metsavas was a serving officer with an artillery unit in the EDF.

Deeply disturbing incident

"The arrest of two Estonian citizens as treason suspects is a deeply disturbing incident. Treason is one of the gravest crimes since, by acting in secret and in a hostile manner, the trust of all the people of Estonia, plus that of our allies, has been betrayed," Mr. Ratas (Centre) went on.

According to the prime minister, the work done in determining the damage caused to the state still lies ahead.

"My thanks goes to the Internal Security Service (KaPo), the EDF and the prosecutor's office for their great work so far. I wish them and other institutions strength in handling the incident further. Only after all details have been established can we make final conclusions," Mr. Ratas went on.

"Estonia has chosen the transparent path, where incidents of working for the benefit of hostile countries and their secret services will be made public. This can at times be difficult and painful, but it affirms the strength, capability and maturity of our society in acting decisively," he added.

Ministry of Defence reaction

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa) echoed the prime minister's statements in a press release.

''Today [Wednesday] I summoned a commission aimed at identifying the extent of the damage that may have been caused, the measures needed to reduce any possible damage and how to avoid similar cases in the future. The Commission will be chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Kristjan Prikk,'' said Mr. Luik.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS, KM

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