Former Estonian army officer Deniss Metsavas, who was last year sentenced to 15 years in prison for handing Estonian and NATO secrets to Russia, has revealed to The Atlantic, how he was recruited in the first place.
The American magazine wrote in an article on Wednesday, June 26, he was first approached by spy recruiters while visiting his relatives in Russia in the summer of 2007.
Woman at a nightclub
At a nightclub in Smolensk, he had met an attractive woman and spent a night with her in the nightclub and a sauna, Metsavas told the Atlantic.
After the night, two men dressed in plain clothes approached him and identified themselves as police officers. They showed him an affidavit in which the woman Metsavas had spent the night with claimed he had raped her. He could face up to 15 years in a Russian prison if convicted, they warned him, and they told him to follow them to the police station.
«They said they could solve my problem if I cooperated,» he recalled to The Atlantic. Metsavas had agreed and signed some forms.
He was subsequently released, but did not contact the Estonian Embassy or reveal the events to the Estonian military, when back home.
Approached in Tallinn a year after
It was only a year after, when he was contacted by people with Russian links, Metsavas told The Atlantic. In the autumn of 2008, as he was leaving his mother’s house in Tallinn, a man approached him and began speaking in Russian. «He asked if I remembered what happened in Smolensk,» Metsavas recalled, «and my promise to cooperate.»
The Estonian army officer ended up passing state secrets on his own and later via his father, who was recruited and convicted as well.
Deniss Metsavas has a family and is a father. Estonian military personnel, however, have been banned from travelling to Russia since 2014.