Years of spying on the Estonian Defence Ministry and a NATO science centre for China earned a three-year jail sentence for an Estonian maritime researcher, a court in Tallinn ruled on Friday, according to media reports.
According to reports by the Estonian magazine Eesti Ekspress and the US news portal The Daily Beast, the researcher spent years listening in on the Defence Ministry's science council and a NATO maritime research centre.
However, Aleksander Toots, deputy director of Estonia's counter-intelligence agency, told media that the convict never handed over sensitive military data.
The researcher was recruited while visiting China and was motivated to work for Chinese intelligence when Beijing appealed to "traditional human weaknesses like money and the need for recognition."
Prosecutor Inna Ombler said the man received about 17,000 euros for his work. The money has since been confiscated.
According to the reports, this is the first time an Estonian national has been found guilty of espionage.
Until now, all agents captured on Estonian territory had come from Russia. However, Estonia's intelligence services have been warning of the increased threat of Chinese spying for some time now.