Fidelius Schmid and Andreas Ulrich in Der Spiegel:
Everyone thought Hermann Simm deserved to be honored. It was Monday, Feb. 6, 2006, and he was dressed in his best suit to attend the day's event. He had been invited to Estonia's presidential palace to accept the “Order of the White Star” for his “service to the Estonian nation.” It was an ironic choice.
It wasn't the only medal Simm received for his services that year. The other honor was one that he could only see on his computer screen, supposedly so as to not jeopardize his cover. Sergey Jakovlev, his handler with the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service, appeared on the screen to show him his medal. Jakovlev was also the one who informed Simm that he had been promoted to the rank of major general for having supplied Moscow with the names of all suspected and known Russians working as spies for NATO. Then-President Vladimir Putin was very impressed, Jakovlev told his best spy.
Four years on, Simm has now reached the late phase of his career. Indeed, in his field — spying — it is not uncommon to spend one's old age in a small prison cell. Simms is incarcerated in a functional, post-Soviet building made of reinforced concrete in the Estonian city of Tartu, where he wears a plain prison uniform and seeks comfort in the Bible. Photos depict him as an older, gray-haired man with a sad look in his eyes.
This is the same man whom NATO, in a classified 141-page report, has recognized as the spy who was “most damaging in Alliance history.”