[Ed. – It takes the article forever to to get to it, so the spoiler up front, for the NATO-smart: China recruited this guy, an Estonian, because he was sent to work at the NATO undersea research facility in La Spezia, Italy.]
Kõuts pleaded guilty to conducting intelligence activities against the Republic of Estonia on behalf of a foreign state. The charges were one stop short of treason. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
[H]e also became a member of the Scientific Committee of the NATO Undersea Research Center based in La Spezia, Italy and even served, from 2018 to 2020, as the vice president of that organization, which is now known as the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE). According to its website, the CMRE “conducts relevant, state-of-the-art scientific research in ocean science, modelling and simulation, acoustics and other disciplines.”
Kõuts’s public Facebook account shows he checked-in at Lerici, Italy— from La Spezia—in April 2018, the year of his recruitment by China. His role at the NATO center gave Kõuts direct access to Estonia’s and NATO’s confidential military intelligence.