Professor arrested on suspicion of spying for the Russians

University of Copenhagen professor accused of scouting potential spies amongst his students

Timo Kivimäki, a 49-year-old professor at the University of Copenhagen, has been arrested and charged with helping a foreign intelligence agency operate in Denmark.

According to weekly newspaper Weekendavisen, the Finnish-born professor handed over sensitive security and policy information during meetings with four different Russian agents. Kivimäki is alleged to have secretly met with Russian operatives 20 times over an eight year period between 2002 and 2010.

The professor was arrested by the domestic intelligence agency PET on a train in September 2010.

Kivimäki denies the charges against him.

“The Russians I met with were diplomats. I have not helped intelligence agents,” Kivimäki told Weekendavisen.

Kivimäki  admitted that he was paid by the Russians, but claimed it was for “analytical and scientific” work. He said he had done the same sort of work for other diplomats and governments.

The professor is also charged with supplying the Russians with the names of students he thought were potential spy candidates. He said that any information he gave the Russians was already publicly available.

Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen, former head of operations at PET, said that it is "completely irrelevant" whether the information Kivimäki supplied is publicly available.

“The concern is that he may have contributed to the ability of a foreign intelligence service to operate on Danish soil and to find people with knowledge of, for example, Danish defence policy,” Bonnichsen told Information newspaper.

Kivimäki was suspended from his post at the University of Copenhagen in January 2011. His boss, Troels Østergaard Sørensen, a faculty dean and head of the Center for Military Studies, said he was surprised at the allegations.

“We had not anticipated this” Sørensen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “We are aware he is being prosecuted, but we have not seen the indictment.”

Sørensen said he is examining any impact the case may have had on the university.

Kivimäki told Weekendavisen that he had been contacted by someone from PET in 2004 in connection with information he had about the Indonesian rebel movement, GAM. He reportedly responded, “F*ck you – I will not be anybody’s spy.”

Kivimäki’s trial scheduled to begin on May 8. On April 26, the court will meet in Glostrup to consider the prosecution’s request to try the case behind closed doors.