A senior official for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) who reportedly worked on multiple sensitive projects was convicted of spying on behalf of China last week, Breitbart reported.
Estonian military defense scientist Tarmo Kõuts was arrested by Estonia’s Internal Security Service last September before being tried in the Tallinn-based Harju County Court.
“Kõuts pleaded guilty to conducting intelligence activities against the Republic of Estonia on behalf of a foreign state,” The Daily Beast reported. He was sentenced to a 3-year prison term.
Three anonymous intelligence officials expressed concern regarding the “long, worrying trend of China attempting to infiltrate institutions across the continent,”according to Business Insider.
“Russian intelligence activity obviously takes the highest priority in our neighborhood but the amount of resources required to monitor China increases for us each year,” one individual from an unnamed Baltic state said.
The source added, “Our natural experience is more with the Russians but we have been warning about China for well over a year.”
According to an anonymous Belgian official, “It’s been building for about five years, we first saw a giant uptick of activity in Brussels as it was obvious that [China’s] EU mission was being used as cover.”
“In 2019 it had become clear that the Chinese had committed as many as 250 intelligence officers to various EU and academic missions,” the official continued. “That’s when we realized that China not only had the most spies but that it was possible most spies were Chinese.”
Intelligence official: China is recruiting
A third unnamed intelligence official commented that Chinese spies “love the academic settings,” and explained that they prioritize “collection of intellectual property, scientific research, and industrial techniques as opposed to the Russians who focus more on traditional hard government intelligence collection.”
“This means the work is often done in more casual conference settings where it’s easier to recruit,” the individual observed. “And the rewards are easy to cover up.”
“Luxury trips disguised as academic conferences, fine dining or prostitutes at the legitimate conferences, it’s pretty easy to work assets this way,” the official added.
Chinese intelligence-gathering activities are by no means limited to Europe. Late last year, a report by Axios revealed that suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang had relationships with a number of Democrats, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).