Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Helsinki Says Spy Gave Moscow Minor Secrets




HELSINKI, Finland -- European Union secrets passed to Russia by an apparently disgruntled Finnish civil servant were not very sensitive, government sources said Thurs day.


They also confirmed media reports identifying the official as Olli Mattila, a middle-ranking civil servant in the Foreign Ministry's trade policy department.


"The documents were not very sensitive, but we reacted out of principle," a government official said. He and other officials declined to elaborate on the content of the documents.


On Wednesday, the security police said Mattila had leaked classified information to two Russian diplomats in Helsinki earlier this year, but that his activity was quickly halted by counterintelligence services.


It suggested money could have been Mattila's motive even though some government sources said he was disappointed by his career.


The diplomat is the son of the industrialist Olavi Mattila, a former Finnish foreign minister.


Mattila has not been arrested, pending the chief prosecutor's decision whether to press charges. He was not available to comment.


"He may be dismissed from his job soon and often charges coincide with such a move," a government source said.


The authorities said Wednesday that during the summer they had asked one of the Russian diplomats involved in the case to leave the country. The other left voluntarily.


Russia called the affair a misunderstanding and showed irritation that its diplomats were declared personae non grata in Finland.


"We counted on the tradition of Russian-Finnish mutual understanding and good neighborliness. Unfortunately it did not take place," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It has so far refrained from any retaliatory move.


Officials said Finland had in the past expelled several Russian diplomats allegedly involved in spying, but Mattila's case was first that the government decided to publicize.


Analysts said Finland also wanted to deliver a blunt signal to Moscow that it should not abuse their traditional friendship. "The situation has changed completely and it's time Moscow realized this," one Western diplomat said, adding that relations between the two countries were unlikely to be damaged.