Counterintelligence and foreign influence activities

Like any other state, Estonia is endangered by special services and espionage of foreign states. By the size of its territory and population Estonia is a small country but our geopolitical situation and the activities and influence in international organisations make it a target for different states and their intelligence organisations. Any state interested in intelligence gathering has its own economic and political agenda that also determines differences in the priorities and methods used. Throughout the history intelligence services have taken special interest in gaining access to classified or sensitive information of another state. Simultaneously there is also the intention to exert influence on the state, its residents and organisations for one's own purposes. The task of counterintelligence is to anticipate and prevent the activities of foreign intelligence services targeted against the interests of Estonia.

Counterintelligence activities of the Estonian Internal Security Service are aimed at identifying, monitoring, influencing and impeding any intelligence activities conducted in Estonia. Also preventive activities of alerting individuals, agencies and companies to possible espionage threats are of vital importance. An essential preventive measure for the state is organising the protection of state secrets and ensuring the efficiency thereof.

The most widespread areas of intelligence are political intelligence, intelligence related to science and technology, economic intelligence, signals intelligence, intelligence via open sources etc.

Since 1996 there have been six occasions when Estonia responded to individuals whose activities were not in accordance with the accepted standards of diplomatic behaviour and demanded that the spies acting under diplomatic cover should leave the Republic of Estonia. In addition, the treason case of a former public servant of Estonia Herman Simm, who was associated with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), has added colour to the world of spying. One of the most important lessons learnt was the fact that Russia used the so-called spy-illegal resident who conducted intelligence activities under covert identity of a businessman from Europe.