Academic charged with ’spying’ for the Russians

A professor of political science at Copenhagen University has been charged with 'soft espionage' for allegedly giving information to Russian secret police on ”persons attached to the Centre for Military Studies” at the university. He denies espionage.

Professor Timo Kivimäki is accused of passing information to the Russians on people who had the potential to participate in scientific seminars "and who could be invited to do research on specific themes”, according to the newspaper Information.

It is alleged that in an eight-year period up to September 2010, Kivimäki arranged 20 meetings with staff at the Russian embassy, and received money for the information conveyed.

Kivimäki himself, according to Information, confirmed that such meetings took place and that he received money for his services. But he said the information provided was in the public domain, and that he received the money for analysis provided.

Kivimäki's former employer, the University of Helsinki, came to his defence in a statement posted on its website, Helsingin Sanomat reported.

Liisa Laakso, dean of the faculty of social sciences, said the charges were related to Kivimäki’s reports on how to resolve disputes regarding Arctic waters. To that end, Kivimäki had been in contact with Russian diplomats who are now under suspicion of espionage.

“Kivimäki is specialised in putting out feelers for peace mediation, and in investigating backgrounds that are related to it”, Laakso wrote.

Court proceedings against Kivimäki will start behind closed doors in Copenhagen on 26 April. Anders Nemeth, his defence lawyer, said the defence would request the academic's full acquittal on the charges against him, Berlingske Tidende, another national daily newspaper, reported.

On 8 September 2010 Politiets Efterretningstjeneste, the Danish security and intelligence service, arrested Kivimäki. But he was released after a short while.

The university suspended Kivimäki in connection with his being under investigation by the Vestegnens police for violation of Danish law. ”This is normal procedure,” dean of the faculty of social sciences, Troels Østergaard Sørensen, stated in a press release.

Kivimäki is a Finnish national with a doctorate from the University of Hensinki. He was recruited to the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen in 1999 as a senior researcher, and this institute became a part of Copenhagen University in 2005.

He has combined theoretical studies in peace with participating in several peace negotiation processes, notably as a staff member of Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari’s mediating team in Indonesia over the Aceh province peace process in 2005.

Before that he had been hired by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhuyona as a senior advisor in post-conflict reconstruction to the Aceh Reconstruction Council, according to his curriculum vitae.

He also has an extensive track record as advisor, project leader, team leader and researcher in policy analysis and consultancies, for example, on the Asian security situation and on aid and terrorism for the Danish foreign ministry; on Islamic terrorism and conflict prevention and regional institution-building for the Finnish foreign ministry; and as project leader in 2004 for an international research project on economic factors and recruitment to terrorism, for the Danish foreign ministry.

This is the first time in more than 20 years that anyone has been charged with 'soft espionage', under paragraph 108 of the Danish criminal law. The foreign minister was informed after the arrest, and Copenhagen University was alerted before the facts became public knowledge.