Friday, March 19, 2021

European spies are alarmed after a scientist with top security clearance was caught working for China, sources say


 Intelligence officials around Europe were alarmed by the news that a prominent scientist was convicted in the Baltic states for spying for China.

BUSINESS INSIDER

Sources who spoke with Insider said the case is part of a long, worrying trend of China attempting to infiltrate institutions across the continent, in some cases supplanting Russia as their most obvious adversary.

The prompt was the sentencing by Estonia of Tarmo Kõuts, 57, to three years in prison. Kõuts had close ties to the Estonian military and worked on multiple sensitive projects, per reports.

The arrest and conviction were first reported by the Daily Beast. ERR, Estonia's public broadcaster, also covered the case.

Prosecutors said Kõuts began spying for China in 2018, and was arrested in secret last September. He had received about $20,000 and several luxury trips, according to accounts provided to the media by Danish government officials.

Insider spoke to three European intelligence officials, two from Western Europe and one from a Baltic state. All requested anonymity as they did not have permission to brief the media. Their identities are known to Insider.

They described a counterintelligence environment where China often posed the largest espionage threat to European institutions.

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