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January 23, 2022
INTELLIGENCE

Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu steps down. General Silviu Predoiu to provide interim leadership of SIE until new head will be appointed

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu (photo) has resigned from the helm of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), and his resignation has reached the Presidency, Presidential Spokesperson Madalina Dobrovolschi stated on Monday.

“I confirm the resignation, it arrived at the President’s cabinet,” Dobrovolschi pointed out.

Dobrovolschi added that President Klaus Iohannis has already accepted the resignation filed by Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, pointing out that the Service will be run by General Silviu Predoiu in the following period.

 

President Iohannis notifies chairs of Parliament chambers regarding SIE director resignation, requests vacancy of position

 

President Klaus Iohannis requested that the Speakers of the two Chambers of Parliament take notice of the resignation of Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu as director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) and declare the position vacant.

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was sworn-in as Foreign Intelligence Service Director on 7 July 2015. This was his second term at the helm of the Service.

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was Foreign Minister in 2004-2007 and Foreign Intelligence Service Director in 2007-2012. He was Premier in February-April 2012. His Government was toppled by the Opposition, through a no-confidence vote, after 78 days in office.

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu won a seat in the Senate as a member of ARD, through redistribution of votes, in the parliamentary elections on 9 December 2012. In September 2012, Ungureanu joined the Civic Force party, running for the office of party president. He then merged the party with the Right Romania Alliance (ARD) formed by PDL and PNTCD. ARD was dissolved after the parliamentary elections of 2012. In March 2013, the Civic Force and PNTCD re-established the Justice and Truth Alliance. After PNL and PDL merged, Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu became the new party’s First Vice President.

 

Reasons for resignation unknown, but there were conflicts with the Presidency and the DNA

 

So far, the reasons for the resignation are not known. In June however, following some speculations, SIE issued a communique in which it pointed out that “there is no kind of failure or deficiency in the relationship between the Service and the President.” The Presidency had pointed out at that moment that a central daily’s use of the case of the Romanian national kidnapped in Burkina Faso, “in order to fuel some political speculations, is irresponsible and inadmissible,” dismissing the allegations that the Head of State had refused to sign a SIE document for the release of the Romanian.

The Presidential Administration thus dismissed the information published by ‘Evenimentul Zilei’ on 23 June 2016, according to which President Klaus Iohannis and SIE Director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu had had a conflict which had culminated with the President’s alleged refusal to sign “an executive order” that would have allowed SIE to free the Romanian national kidnapped in Burkina Faso.

“The Romanian President does not get involved in any way in the Foreign Intelligence Service’s current activity, since it has no constitutional prerogative in this sense. SIE’s activity takes place in line with legal provisions currently in force, which provide the framework in which the Service operates under the coordination of the Supreme Defence Council,” the Presidency pointed out at the time.

DNA-SIE jabs after Kovesi accused SIE of withholding information from DNA

 

DNA Chief Prosecutor Codruta Kovesi stated on 26 April 2016 that ever since she took over the leadership of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) she “did not receive any report from the Foreign Intelligence Service,” pointing out that “it is illegal to have information about possible crimes and not to notify the National Anticorruption Directorate.”

“In 2013, 2014 and 2015, in fact since I started my tenure at the DNA, I did not receive any report from SIE. Nevertheless, we are seeing that an ever increasing number of defendants are setting up companies abroad. The question arises why haven’t we received reports on these activities. We haven’t received reports on bank accounts abroad either, or luxury villas, or luxury yachts,” Codruta Kovesi stated at a conference dubbed “Anticorruption – obstacles and performance.”

“SIE does not monitor Romanian citizens abroad, this practice being specific to the former Securitate, just as it does not monitor bank accounts and bank transfers, real-estate purchases or purchases of any other nature carried out by Romanian citizens abroad,” SIE replied in a communique.

“SIE intelligence cannot be used as evidence in court, since they are obtained through foreign citizens, with specific means and methods, which cannot be revealed under any circumstances,” SIE said, pointing out that “this kind of information is sent for processing, validation and use to those state institutions with legal prerogatives and possibilities, namely SRI, MAI, ONPCSB etc.” During the intelligence gathering process, SIE also obtains “deliberately or in a collateral fashion, information on Romanian or foreign natural and legal persons’ intentions to break the law.”

In its press release, SIE stated that it carries out its activity in line with legal provisions and criticised the DNA Director for having a point of view “generated by a misunderstanding of the specificity entailed by the foreign intelligence/espionage activity.”

“Against the backdrop in which SIE does not have access to the DNA’s activity or pending cases, or to the identity of the suspects in those cases, during the period of time mentioned by the DNA Chief Prosecutor, SIE did not receive any request to verify or obtain information about a natural or legal person investigated for corruption,” SIE answered.

 

PSD’s Dragnea: This resignation should better not be part of an underground political war

 

On Monday, Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea commented on Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s resignation, in a message posted on Facebook.  The Social Democrat leader hopes that this is not about a political battle and called for the reasons of the decision to be revealed.

“I found out from the press about SIE Director’s resignation. A resignation is a resignation and I won’t comment on it! I hope that this act is not part of an underground political war. It’s very important for the intelligence services not to be involved in the political battle! Romanian public opinion should know what were the real reasons for this resignation. If they were strictly personal reasons, then it is all right, but if there were other reasons, which have to do with this Service’s functioning, then the SIE Oversight Commission should be informed, because we are talking about an important state institution,” Dragnea wrote on Facebook.

 

PNL’s Gorghiu rules out Ungureanu’s candidacy on party’s lists in parliamentary elections

 

PNL Co-President Alina Gorghiu commented on Digi24 on Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s resignation from the helm of SIE and gave assurances that Ungureanu, who is a former PNL member, will not run on the party’s lists. “I don’t think it’s normal for an intelligence director to enter politics right after his resignation. It would be unhealthy,” Alina Gorghiu said.

Alina Gorghiu expressed her surprise with Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s gesture but believes he will not run in the elections. Asked what she bases her opinion on, Alina Gorghiu said: “on common sense.”

The PNL Co-President gave assurances that her party did not have talks with Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and there will be no such talks. “This candidacy is out of the question.”

In what concerns the fact that the top SIE office is now vacant, Alina Gorghiu said she does not worry because the institution worked without a director for over half a year before and there were no problems.

 

Former SIE Director: There were probably disagreements

 

Former SIE Director Catalin Harnagea was asked to comment on Ungureanu’s gesture. He said he was surprised by Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s resignation.

“The gesture to resign out of a blue, on a Monday morning, is fairly unexpected, coming from a regular person but also from the director of an intelligence service. Maybe Mr. Ungureanu has a different agenda, maybe he wants to become ambassador or has other means, good means, for a career in the private sector. But the gesture is unexpected, because it comes at an atypical moment. There were probably disagreements between the President and Mihai Razvan Ungureanu,” Harnagea stated in a phone interview with Antena 3.

 

Journalist Rares Bogdan: He thought he could be SIE Director while serving other states

 

“This resignation is normal. It’s a normal piece of news, something that should have happened 3 months ago. The Romanian President asked for his resignation 3 months ago, I have this information from my sources. It’s logical, normal. MRU remains an intelligent person, with a political future. He can be an excellent ambassador, maybe the right wing’s candidate for a seat in Parliament. Based on my information, MRU hurried up on certain issues. You have to think about the Romanian state, not about other states.”

“Mr. Razvan Ungureanu thought he could be SIE Director while serving other states too. The latter is left. Think about the fact that the future SIE Director will be elected by Parliament. Let’s not forget that MRU went through the vote of UNPR members. The Parliament’s test for the future SIE Director, nominated by the Romanian President, is up next. I believe he will make a good choice for this country. The new SIE Director should be loyal to Romania,” Realitatea TV journalist and talk-show host Rares Bogdan stated.

 

Who is Silviu Predoiu, the new interim head of SIE?

 

general-silviu-predoiu-sieGeneral Silviu Predoiu, the Deputy Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), will provide the interim leadership of the service until a new chief will be appointed, after Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s resignation. Thus, he will lead the Foreign Intelligence Service for the fourth time. He did this also in 2014, after Teodor Melescanu’s resignation.

Silviu Predoiu (58 years old) is a SIE employee since 1990, where he operated as a foreign counterintelligence operative officer (1990-1993); he took part to a lengthy foreign mission (1993-1997); he was a foreign counterintelligence operative officer (Head Office, deputy head of department, head of department, 1997-2000); Head of the Directorate for combating organized crime (2000-2002); Head of the Antiterrorism Directorate (2002-2003); Head of the Internal Protection Directorate (2003-2004); Head of the Counterintelligence and Protection Directorate (2004-2005).

Since November 18, 2005, he is SIE Deputy Director.

He was SIE interim Director from July 24 to October 4, 2006, after Gheorghe Fulga’s resignation; from March 19 to December 5, 2007, after Claudiu Saftoiu’s leaving; from February 8 to February 27, 2012, after Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s appointment as a PM; from September 23, 2014 to June 29, 2015, after Teodor Melescanu’s resignation.

He was assigned the rank of lieutenant within SIE. He was promoted to the rank of captain (1992), Major (1996), Lieutenant Colonel (1999), Colonel (2002), Brigadier General (2004), Major General (2006), Lieutenant General (2008), General (2011).

From 1985 to 1990 he was a geologist at the Rare Metals Enterprise in Bucharest.

 

President Iohannis: New SIE Director to be appointed after elections

 

President Klaus Iohannis stated that Ungureanu’s successor at the helm of SIE will be appointed after the parliamentary elections, since he considers that Parliament will be busy preparing the December 11 elections and that things are under control at any rate.

“He invoked personal reasons and I have no further information. (…) I believe this Parliament will be very busy with the elections and I hope it will be very busy finding candidates not involved in criminal cases, and waging a clean campaign, so I don’t believe I will burden their agenda with the appointment of a new SIE director. Things are under control, General Predoiu has been acting director before and it’s not a situation that calls for Parliament’s very urgent intervention, other than taking note of Mr. Ungureanu’s resignation. So I will probably come up with a nomination after the elections,” Iohannis said, pointing out that he is yet to think about whom to nominate.

Asked about the speculations concerning his disagreements with Ungureanu, the President answered that he worked very well with Ungureanu and that “the spying domain is always very interesting” and gives birth to the most various stories.

“You recall I nominated him for the leadership of SIE. Now he has resigned for reasons I will probably find out when we’ll have the chance to sit down and talk. There were no such situations. I received the resignation today at noon. I understand he has a medical problem that did not allow him to come to the Presidential Palace in person, but we will urgently clarify this issue as soon as he gets better,” the Head of State added.

 

 

 

 

 

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