Coldea’s testimony before the SRI Committee stirs vivid comments in the public space. Potential effects of the publishing of CSAT Decision that stood at basis of SRI protocols

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Former SRI Deputy Director Florian Coldea: Protocols are an international practice. At this moment, SRI can’t counter terrorism and espionage actions. Coldea compares those who betray state interests with Judas, who had a tragic end “just like any other traitor”

 

Florian Coldea, former Deputy Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) claims that the signing of inter-institutional protocols is an international practice, including at the level of the EU and NATO, and that, at this moment, because of the unprecedented assault over the protocol concluded by the SRI and the Public Ministry, the Service cannot act to counter actions of terrorism and espionage, which may render the security of Romania and its allies vulnerable.

He noted that topics that were initially launched in the public space on Facebook have become fake stories, and, being intensely promoted, they are trying to replace reality. Coldea also referred to those betraying the interests of the state, comparing them to Judas, stating he had a tragic end “just like any other traitor.”

“The issue of cooperation based on protocols is an international practice, including at the level of NATO and the EU. There is no other practice in the world. Without achieving a procedural, coherent framework to achieve cooperation, one cannot cooperate inter-institutionally without there being a protocol, especially with intelligence services. Beyond any juridical interpretations, in practice they have a technical, functionally limitative character, as a guide, precisely to ensure the legality, forecastibility, and unitary practice at the level of the Service,” Florian Coldea stated last Thursday after Parliament’s Intelligence Committee heard him for 7 hours.

The former SRI Deputy Director also stated that, concretely, cooperation was taking place in line with each side’s legal prerogatives.

“I am not aware of SRI officers ever carrying out or drafting, during my term in office, a single criminal prosecution action in any dossier. These really are stories from a parallel reality,” he added.

“I informed the committee that today, as a result of this unprecedented assault over this issue of cooperation with the Public Ministry, in order to achieve the prerogatives that the Service has, including in what concerns the decision of the Constitutional Court (CCR), the Service finds it impossible to work based on a protocol when it comes to crimes against national security, such as espionage and terrorism. Today we don’t have protocols. How do we act to protect the interests of Romania and of our allies? (…) We render or are at risk of rendering vulnerable not only Romania’s national security but also the security of some of our allies,” Florian Coldea said.

The former SRI Deputy Director asked whether the working procedure should be presented transparently so that spies and traitors would adapt to it: “What should we do? Inform spies and traitors that we have no protocols and they should wait a bit and should not get involved in activities until we solve the issue of the protocols? Should we make an extremely transparent, very clear procedure in order to make visible what we can and cannot do, so that spies and traitors would adjust their measures? Or do we also have the possibility of an adequate solution at Euro-Atlantic standards, to successfully manage, just like we’ve done until now, the risks and threats to national security.”

Coldea pointed out that, during the hearing, he presented in detail the way he acted in all circumstances, exclusively in the spirit and the letter of the law.

“Today I notice that topics that were initially launched in the public space on Facebook have become fake stories, and, being intensely promoted, they are somewhat trying to replace reality. All of this, no matter how determined some may be, cannot harm an existing truth: SRI has done its job, and SRI officers have fulfilled, with devotion and courage, the missions they were entrusted with, in full observance of the rule of law. (…) I would like to remind you of a famous Biblical character who, approximately 2,000 years ago, betrayed for 30 silvers. So what if he was subsequently remorseful? The harm done could not be repaired and fixed. Obviously, as any traitor, his destiny ended tragically. From this standpoint, I notice with worry that some are today visibly doing the same with the interests of the Romanian state. They do it in plain sight, extremely vocally and unashamedly. Moreover, they seem to make a title of glory out of this, affecting fundamental institutions and the democratic capabilities to defend and protect the Romanian state,” Florian Coldea stated.

He pointed out that he will return to the committee’s hearings.

 

Manda: Coldea said that Basescu knew about the existence of the protocols, but not about their content

 

Intelligence Committee Chairman Claudiu Manda stated on Thursday that former SRI Deputy Director Florian Coldea confirmed that Traian Basescu was aware of the existence of the protocols, but did not know their content. Manda added that the former SRI Deputy Director also confirmed that security warrants were obtained from judges at night.

Manda claimed that Florian Coldea confirmed before the committee that Traian Basescu knew about the existence of the SRI protocols, but did not know what they contained.

“He said that yes, he knew about their existence, but not about their content. Tariceanu was no longer Premier and [member] in the CSAT, he said he does not know whether or cannot confirm that Mr Tariceanu knew,” Manda said.

The PSD Senator added that Florian Coldea was asked whether national security warrants were obtained from judges at night, and his answer was affirmative.

“Mr Coldea’s answer was affirmative. In conditions of maximum urgency, they acted like this too. These urgent requests were made only for crimes of espionage, terrorism, and also corruption or tax evasion. I don’t want to make a mistake, based on what I noted down, there were situations in these cases too, when they approached a certain prosecutor or judge at night, to obtain such a national security warrant,” Claudiu Manda explained.

 

Basescu deciphers Coldea’s subliminal message: It didn’t target Ghita, nor Morar

 

Ex-President Traian Basescu stated on Friday that Florian Coldea’s message for “traitors” was meant for the network of officers, prosecutors and judges he worked with, not for Sebastian Ghita.

“I believe Ghita dived in the pool and the pool had no water in it. It didn’t target Ghita, nor Morar. If it targeted someone, it targeted Dragomir. It could be one option, but I believe it mostly targeted his own network, officers with whom he worked, prosecutors, judges who obeyed orders. We’d have to be naïve to believe that Florian Coldea was the evil mastermind and he thought all of this on his own. There was a team. Ghita chimed in and now sits in his house in Belgrade. They should stay the course and continue to issue convictions because they have a sacred mission,” Traian Basescu stated for B1TV.

“I haven’t met him (Florian Coldea – editor’s note) as often as people believe, but he is tarred with the same brush as… Mihaela Nicola. We can allege he is Mrs Mihaela Nicola’s PR. The warning was not directed to Ghita, Morar, but to the people he worked with,” Basescu added.

Shortly thereafter, in a phone interview with Antena3, ex-lawmaker Sebastian Ghita, presently in Serbia where he is undergoing an extradition procedure, stated that he feels threatened.

“I feel targeted and threatened. I’ll talk with my lawyers, I don’t even know what I’m going to do, what protection measures to take. You’ve seen what happened in London, what the Russian services did. It’s obviously a threat against me and I’m afraid, that’s also why I fled Romania, (…) because that’s the mindset… ‘let’s muzzle him, let’s put him in a cell with two hoodlums, to kill him. Are there any other people wishing me harm? I didn’t understand exactly. Will we revisit? Does he still have some connections?’ (…) Today I see that I get public death threats,” Sebastian Ghita stated for Antena3.

 

Toader, message on SRI-Prosecutor’s Office protocol: It must be seen to what extent it allowed interferences in fundamental rights

 

On Friday, referring to the protocol between the Public Ministry and the SRI, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated that it must be seen to what extent its enforcement allowed interferences in fundamental rights and freedoms and if – and to what extent – the signatories of the protocol supplemented the law, thus substituting the legislator.

“On protocols and potential consequences! On 16 March 2018, I publicly announced I will ask the Public Ministry to declassify the protocol concluded with the SRI! On 19 March 2018, I officially asked the Public Ministry to start the procedures needed to declassify the said protocol. On 20 March 2018, the Justice Ministry received the protocol concluded by the Public Ministry and the SRI. Today, we appreciate the continuation of the process of declassifying other similar protocols too. It must be seen to what extent the enforcement of the protocol allowed interferences in fundamental rights and liberties. It must be seen whether – and to what extent – by concluding the protocol its signatories supplemented the law, substituting the legislator!” Tudorel Toader wrote on Facebook on Friday evening.

 

Senate Speaker: Totally inadequate statements. By his behavior, Coldea is trying to avoid the truth

 

Senate President Calin Popescu-Tariceanu on Tuesday stated that last’ weeks statements of former deputy director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Florin Coldea made in front of the specialized committee for SRI supervision were “totally inadequate, by the way he behaved, the answers he gave, and by the manner in which he was trying to avoid the actual truths.”

“Based on the information that I do have and the statements made by the committee’s head, Mr. Claudiu Manda, it results that Mr. Coldea’s statements and answers were totally inadequate. By his behavior, his answers, by the manner in which he was actually trying to avoid the truths that must be said in front of the committee, for this is the actual role of this committee, to verify the lawfulness of the functioning of the services in Romania,” specified Tariceanu, in front of the Standing Bureau, answering a question related to this matter.

He also added that, in fact, Coldea tried during the hearings to lead to the idea that the declassification of protocols “could generate certain problems in terms of national security.”

“I saw afterwards in the media those threats and we, those with a certain political experience, smiled. What I mean is that he [i.e. Coldea] tried to induce the idea that the declassification of protocols could generate certain problems in terms of national security. I would only ask this: in the United States, where they are facing a much greater danger, a concrete one, on their territory and in other places, how do they solve these problems without having such protocols in place? Are these protocols the key to solving this problem? I believe that both the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code are enough, without the need to add more to the law. If we need to add to the law, then this should be done exclusively by Parliament alone and not by anybody else,” Tariceanu stressed.

In this context, the Senate President referred to the visit made by the head of the parliamentary committee for the control of the SRI activity, Claudiu Manda, in Germany.

“Three members of the Committee for the control of the Service have made a trip, recently. I would tell you to get in touch with them and discuss these details. They contacted the similar committee in Germany and discussed, including this matter and those people were astonished, they said that nothing like this exists in Germany and that Germany would be on fire if something like this existed,” said Tariceanu, in relation to the protocols concluded by the SRI.

When asked if he knew about the protocol signed between the Prosecutor’s Office and the SRI while he was a Prime Minister and a Vice-President of the Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT), Tariceanu denied that he knew anything about the matter.

Asked about the lawfulness off such protocol, in the context in which the CSAT was not informed, the Senate President said: “This is precisely the topic of the public debate, that these protocols have no legal grounds, they added something up to the law and I believe that we must bring all the protocols signed by the SRI with the other institutions to light,” concluded Tariceanu.

 

Tariceanu on not attending SRI informal meetings: In life, I’ve learned: civilians with civilians and rest

 

President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stated on Tuesday  that he is not the one who should be asked if the presence of some persons is appropriate or not at an informal event organised by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), adding that he knows how to behave himself.

“You should discuss with those who made these allegation, don’t ask me about the obligations or capacities in which other people attend a series of meetings. I, as far as I’m concerned, know how to behave. In my life, I’ve learned this: civilians with civilians and the rest,” Tariceanu said after the meeting of the Standing Bureau.

The Senate President was asked whether the presence of Liviu Dragnea is appropriate or not at a Christmas event organised by the SRI, whose attendance was confirmed by former SRI head George Maior and former deputy director Florian Coldea, at the hearing of the Parliamentary Committee overseeing the SRI activity. Moreover, Tariceanu was also asked why he did not participate in informal meetings organized by the services.

Head of the Parliamentary Committee overseeing the SRI activity Claudiu Manda stated on 5 April, after Florian Coldea’s hearings, that there was an event on Christmas Eve attended by several persons, beneficiaries or partners of the SRI.

“He said that there was such an event on Christmas Eve. Several persons participated in that event. He was asked how many persons and [Coldea] said that over 10 persons, he didn’t want to state their names. He was asked only to confirm some persons whom we know about from the public space and he confirmed. He said that those persons were beneficiaries or partners of the SRI. It was such an event, but no pig was slaughtered. Among these persons there were Mr Ghita, Mr Dragnea, Mr Maior, Mr Coldea, external partners and Mr Ponta, but I don’t know if he asked him, but there is Mr Maior’s statement about this event,” Manda said.

 

Dragnea on Coldea’s statements: In a hearing you don’t read and leave, that’s not a hearing, it’s a lecture in which someone reads some pieces of paper and leaves, possibly tells some parables

 

Referring to Florian Coldea’s hearing before the Intelligence Committee, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday that at a hearing one does not simply read and leave because that is no longer a hearing but “a lecture in which someone reads some pieces of paper and possibly tells some parables.”

“Generally, I don’t reprimand my colleagues from the Intelligence Committee, not even Chairman Manda. But I understood hearings are taking place over there. In a hearing you don’t read and leave, based on my understanding. That’s not a hearing, it’s a lecture in which someone reads some pieces of paper and leaves, possibly tells some parables too.”

The PSD leader said he does not know whom the former SRI Deputy Director had in mind when he mentioned the parable with Judas: “I have no idea whom he had in mind and honestly I don’t care very much either.”

Likewise, asked whether Florian Coldea wanted to distract away from other things when he mentioned Judas, Dragnea said that the important thing is what happened these years and “these smokescreens can’t cover it up.”

“I’m not looking at this. I believe the main topics have to do with what happened these years. Not with pigs, pig’s skin, nor with the parable. Those who want to should threaten each other. All these smokescreens can’t cover up what happened and what is starting to surface every day. It’s a process that, in my opinion, can no longer be stopped,” the PSD leader added.

He also said that he will state whether he took part in parties organised by the SRI, if summoned before the Intelligence Committee.

“I’ll state before the Intelligence Committee, probably in this lifetime, when Mr Manda is going to look in the agenda and make some room for me too,” the PSD leader said.

Dragnea added that with incumbent SRI Director Eduard Hellvig he has the same relationship he previously had with George Maior and Florian Coldea.

At the same time, Liviu Dragnea claimed that the SRI protocols “represent the written basis for a system of political police.”

“Those protocols, in fact, represent the written basis for a system of political police, which was built in Romania. There aren’t any (protocols in NATO and the EU – editor’s note). I lived before 1989 and back then the former Securitate was carrying out criminal probes. Those protocols created the basis for the SRI to move closer to the idea of criminal probes,” he said.

The PSD leader emphasised that the security breach that the absence of protocols may create, which Florian Coldea has invoked, is false.

“Nobody has defined what the security breach would be. I really don’t want to analyse what Mr Coldea said. I didn’t see anyone defining the security breach,” Dragnea said.

 

Potential effects of the publishing of CSAT Decision that stood at basis of SRI protocols

 

One of the most highly-debated decisions adopted by the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) in recent times is the one that stood at the basis of the conclusion of the SRI protocols. Some magistrates, the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM), and some politicians are now demanding that the document be published. Jurists state that the document may have supplemented the SRI’s prerogatives.

Some jurists point out that the publishing of the CSAT decision could generate severe problems if it is noted that, on its basis, SRI officers obtained prerogatives outside of the law.

“What we are all suspecting, but don’t know, is that they assimilated the corruption and money laundering crimes within the framework of this decision. Basically, by doing so they allegedly offered supplementary, non-legal prerogatives to the SRI. In what concerns the effects, in my view, if the decision has this content, so if it does indeed add some prerogatives to SRI officers, prerogatives not included in the law, we have a big problem. Then we will know exactly what the starting point of it all was, namely the CSAT, which is extremely grave. I’ve kept saying for some time now that the only solution is a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature, through which Parliament would complain at the Constitutional Court that the CSAT infringed upon its prerogatives. Parliament is the only one that legislates in this country. Nobody else can legislate, least of all a secret body such as the CSAT, via secret decisions,” lawyer Toni Neacsu, former member of the CSM, stated for MEDIAFAX.

Ex-President Traian Basescu says that, based on his information, the decision should be public.

“To be honest, from what I know, it can freely be made public. (…) The problem is whether the number is correctly written in the protocol; I have no way of knowing. On the other hand, paradoxically, because I have a good memory, I can satisfy the curiosity. I quote from memory as if I had the CSAT decision in front of me. This decision concerns the combating of corruption, fraud, money laundering, and is addressed to four institutions: Finance Ministry, Public Ministry, National Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, and Justice Ministry. No SRI is mentioned, not even the Interior Ministry,” Traian Basescu stated last week.

Former CCR Judge Toni Grebla pointed out the same thing, for MEDIAFAX.

“From what I remember, it is listed under no.17. Iohannis should have published it, that’s all. He won’t declassify it because it was not classified. Had it been classified, it would have been listed under no.0, 00 or 000, depending on the degree of classification. In principle, the CSAT decision is mandatory on condition it is published in the Official Journal. Classified documents can have no effect in what concerns the judicial activity, because it concerns people’s rights and freedoms and they cannot be limited, impacted, by any documents except by organic law. Secondly, we must see the prerogatives and whether they contain several elements of non-legality. Based on what Basescu said, they didn’t give, they only established that corruption would be a national security vulnerability. Stupidity or baseness are not vulnerabilities,” the former CCR judge said.

The former CCR judge claims that the request to declassify all protocols is the inevitable effect of the appearance of information regarding the collaboration documents.

“In my opinion, it’s the snowball effect. Once the illegalities contained by this protocol that has already been declassified were found out, the public opinion, other state institutions will make sure that within a very short period all would be made public, and especially that measures would be taken against those who signed such documents. The structure that committed abuses cannot fix them itself. What Basescu claimed, that Kovesi should remain in office to put the DNA back on its feet as it once was in Morar’s time, was an absurdity. This cannot happen. There must be new people, ones not linked to the past,” he added.

Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) President Dana Girbovan claims that the publishing of the decision is necessary, to be followed by a rigorous analysis.

“There is the need for total transparency in this process, for the publishing of all CSAT decisions that concerned the judiciary, of the protocols or agreements (in order not to have a dispute over the terms, I’m talking about ANY type of document that established cooperation, collaboration, joint activities, relations between judicial institutions and other authorities), and at the end we should conduct a rigorous assessment of everything that occurred, because we have the right to know the truth. The whole truth!”, the judge wrote on Facebook.

In an answer to a MEDIAFAX query, the CSAT explained that, in line with the Romanian Constitution and Law no.415/2002 on the way the institution is to function and be organised, the Council represents the autonomous administrative authority invested with the unitary organisation and coordination of the activities that concern national defence and national security, adding that information regarding this decision cannot be provided.

“In line with the provisions of Article 7(1) and Article 12(1) of Law no.415/2002, the Council’s meetings are secret, and its decisions are relayed to the public administration authorities and public institutions they concern, in full or in part, or to the public institutions with prerogatives in enforcing their provisions; Based on the aforementioned legal exigencies, whose implementation in the activity of the Supreme Defence Council is imperative, your request cannot receive a favourable response,” reads the CSAT response.

During the latest plenary meeting of the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM), the CSM members decided to ask the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) to forward to them Decision no.17/2005, and, in case the decision is classified, to state its position on its declassification.