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Frustration over limbo in professor spy case

Fuzzy regulations over diplomatic contacts irritates the head of the political science department. No decision yet on Finnish professor's status at University

[Editor’s note 28 August 2014: Timo Kivomäki was found guilty under the Danish paragraph 108, the so-called mild espionage paragraph, on 31 May 2012. Mild espionage is defined as aiding a foreign intelligence service without directly researching for them or informing for them. He was given a five month prison sentence. A resumé of the court’s decision can be found here. He served two and a half months in home arrest and four days of community service]

The espionage case against Finnish professor Timo Kivimäki threatens to have an adverse affect on the research carried out at the Department of Political Science.

This is according to Head of Department Lars Bo Kaspersen who was interviewed for the department’s website. His colleague, professor Timo Kivimäki is charged under section 108 of the Danish Penal Code also referred to as the ‘mild espionage section’ for alleged spying for the Russians.

»It is profoundly regrettable for Kivimäki and his family, and also for Danish research. It is unhealthy for research that you cannot uphold a knowledge sharing process, hold meetings and be in dialogue with people from embassies and the like. This is after all what gives researchers thier contacts, and a platform where they can meet people with the expertise,« he says.

UCPH: No decision on Kivimäki’s contract

Timo Kivimäki was a part of the University of Copenhagen’s Asian Dynamics Initiative. Lars Bo Kaspersen expects that if Kivimäki is ultimately exonerated, he will be able to return to the department.

As it happens, Timo Kivimäki got a five months jail sentence Thursday at a lower court in Glostrup. He has not yet decided whether to appeal.

According to the vice director of communication Jasper Steen Winkel, the University of Copenhagen will not take a decision on whether Timo Kivimäki will be sacked until a final verdict has been given, the Danish section of this media reports.

Rules of decorum

The University of Copenhagen can, if it chooses, use the so-called rules of decorum to terminate Timo Kivimäki’s contract.

According to these rules, all civil servants must »conscientiously uphold the rules for his position. And in and outside his or her service, show themselves worthy of the esteem and trust that the position demands.«

Kivimäki has not had discussions with the University of Copenhagen over the future of his professorship, writes the Helsinki paper Helsinkin Sanomat.

Kivimäki ‘other job offers’

However, »I don’t think that he can work here. Nobody is likely to want him«, Prosecutor Ole Weikop said, according to the Helsinki paper.

Kivimäki himself is already looking further afield.

»I currently have five job offers from different parts of the world«, he says.

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