A North Atlantic Treaty Organization scientist who obtained a security clearance was convicted for spying on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
The individual – Estonian researcher Tarmo Kõuts – was recruited by Chinese military intelligence while serving as a member of the Scientific Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Undersea Research Center.
Kõuts, who had a state secret permit as well as NATO security clearance dating back fourteen years at the time of his arrest, was also the Vice President of NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation from 2018 to 2020. The center “conducts relevant, state-of-the-art scientific research in ocean science, modeling and simulation, acoustics and other disciplines.”
According to Aleksander Toots, the deputy director of Estonia’s top counterintelligence agency, Kõuts was recruited by China’s Intelligence Bureau of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission in 2018.
Kõuts allegedly had an accomplice who was also arrested by police on September 9th, 2020.Kõuts received cash payments totaling $20,000 from Chinese Communist Party handlers in addition to paid trips to various Asian countries with luxury accommodations and dinners at Michelin star restaurants.
The Chinese Communist Party agents handling him were operating under the cover of a think tank – a common approach used by the Chinese Communist Party targets Western researchers as documented by the National Pulse.
Kõuts was sentenced to three years in prison.