The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) firmly denies the public allegations regarding the involvement of the SRI leadership in the Black Cube case.
“In regards to the public speculations in which the name of SRI Director Eduard Hellvig is mentioned by persons against whom a criminal investigation is being conducted, the SRI makes the following statements. The SRI has no comment in regards to the criminal cases which are currently in progress. The SRI firmly denies the public allegations regarding the involvement of the SRI leadership in the Black Cube case,” the Service reveals in a release sent to Agerpres on Tuesday.
Moreover, the SRI mentions that “the SRI Director never discussed, under no circumstances and in no context, directly or indirectly, with the persons investigated by prosecutors in this case.”
“Furthermore, the SRI had a decisive contribution, with the Director’s approval and in accordance with its legal duties of supplying relevant information, which led to the start of criminal prosecution in this case,” the quoted source added.
Iohannis: President and Presidency were not involved in this Black Cube operation, neither formally nor informally
President Klaus Iohannis reacted on this topic last Friday in his turn too.
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Friday that neither he nor the Presidency was involved in the Black Cube operation, labelling the accusations levied against the SRI as preposterous.
“Neither the President nor the Presidency protected, were involved in this Black Cube operation, not formally and not informally,” Iohannis said, labelling the accusations levied against the SRI as preposterous.
He emphasised that not only did the SRI not protect that operation but it decisively contributed to apprehending the criminals.
“That some criminals thought it would look good or interesting to say in Romania that the SRI and the President defends them; those who like watching too many spy movies may take pleasure in this, but these statements are completely groundless,” the Head of State added.
Iohannis pointed out that he asked DIICOT Chief Prosecutor Daniel Horodniceanu to do “what he wants, how he wants and when he wants, but to fully and finally clarify this case.”
“I don’t have the data from the case file, the DIICOT has it, but I can tell you my personal opinion: there is no Romanian institution that protected the criminals. That some came from institutions and maybe presented themselves as the representatives of those institutions, we’ve seen this before, but for Romanian state institutions to protect criminals, this is impossible,” Iohannis added.
Two Israelis charged in Black Cube case plead guilty
Two of the Israelis charged in the Black Cube case, namely Ron Weiner and David Geclowicz, have reached a plea agreement with the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) prosecutors to get reduced sentences.
According to the plea agreement, Ron Weiner and David Geclowicz agreed to receive a suspended sentence of 3 years in prison and to do community work.
The plea agreement was sent to the Bucharest Court House, and the court established that the trial will start on 7 November.
The two Black Cube employees are currently investigated while remanded on conditional bail.
Three Israelis were charged in this case – Ron Weiner, David Geclowicz and Yossi Barkshtein. The latter managed to flee Romania, an arrest warrant in absentia being issued on his name.
According to the DIICOT, Ron Weiner is charged with organizing a criminal group, complicity to illegally accessing an information system, complicity to unauthorized information data transfer, complicity to corrupting the integrity of data information (continued offence), illegal operations with information devices and programs.
David Geclowicz is charged with organizing a criminal group, complicity to illegally accessing an information system, complicity to unauthorized information data transfer, complicity to corrupting the integrity of data information and complicity to illegal operations with information devices and programs.
Moreover, the prosecutors placed former Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) officer Daniel Dragomir under criminal prosecution. He is currently under pre-trial arrest.
Dragomir used to be Chief of the Tactical Intelligence Sector of the SRI’s General Directorate for Counterterrorism. In 2015 he was indicted by the DNA for influence peddling and money laundering.
Black Cube CEO Zorella claims SRI Director and Romanian President backed company’s action
The statements came after Black Cube CEO Dan Zorella claimed that the SRI Director and the Romanian President backed the company’s operation.
Dan Zorella was heard on June 27, through a rogatory commission. Dan Zorella stated that in January 2016 he was approached by a fellow Israeli who talked to him about Romanian national Daniel Dragomir, former director within the Romanian Intelligence Service. Dragomir had an important issue to investigate in Romania, related to corruption suspicions concerning the DNA Chief Prosecutor, EVZ.ro informs. Zorella accepted to come to Bucharest on February 1, to see what the project was about. He did not come alone, bringing with him Uri Levi, an important member of the Israeli intelligence services, also “retired,” known to have worked closely with Meir Dagan, the former Director of Mossad in 2002-2011.
To prove his statements, Zorella filed the plane tickets, recordings of his conversation with Dragomir as well as the reservations booked at a hotel in Romania. Moreover, he offered details about the measures Dragomir told him to take: secure phones and the use of an app to avoid being intercepted.
They decided to meet at the bar of the Hilton Hotel, where Dragomir was to have an apple and a newspaper on the table in order to be recognised. After some talks, the three left for a restaurant where the project for which Black Cube had been contracted was discussed. Uri Levi recorded the entire conversation and Zorella handed over the recordings to Israeli police officers, as part of the rogatory commission.
According to the testimony of Black Cube’s CEO, Dragomir talked about “a national issue of extreme importance for Romania,” and about the mistakes in the background of the DNA Chief Prosecutor, but also in the background of Florian Coldea, his former colleague with whom he had worked to release the Romanian journalists held captive in Iraq in 2005. Pointing out his friendship with Coldea and Kovesi, Dragomir asked the Black Cube CEO for the whole operation to take place far from the eyes of SRI’s second in command.
In what concerns the people who were backing the operation, Zorella stated that Daniel Dragomir convinced him he had close ties with the SRI, with American agents he had cooperated with throughout the years, and that his overture was backed by SRI Director Eduard Hellvig and by President Klaus Iohannis. Moreover, there were two clients very interested in his project and ready to pay. At the same time, Dragomir claimed that he received the SRI’s approval for Black Cube agents to work as one of the Service’s cells.
The Israelis asked for GBP 150,000 per month, estimating that the operation will last two months. When completed, a success bonus of GBP 750,000 would have been paid.
To make sure the operation was ordered by a Government authority, Zorella contacted former Mossad Director Meir Dagan.
“Meir Dagan had good relations with the Romanian intelligence services. I thought maybe he could verify more deeply the essence of the project. I consulted Uri Levi whether I could turn to Dagan on this topic, and he said it’s a good idea. I went alone at Meir Dagan’s home, several days after my talk with Daniel, I explained to him the sensitivity of the project and I asked him whether he would be able to verify, using his connections in Romania, whether this is indeed a Government project. Dagan did not know Daniel Dragomir. However, he said he would of course verify this for us. I explained to him the sensitivity in regards to Coldea and told him not to approach Coldea by mistake. I explained to Dagan that, based on what we understood from our meeting with Dragomir, Hellvig and the President are behind the project. Dagan contacted me by phone a day or two later and told me he carried out all verifications in Romania and this is indeed a very important project for the Romanian state, we should carry out the activity as Daniel said, only in Romania, and we would thus be protected by the organisation. We would operate as a SRI cell and we should be successful, an important mission,” reads Zorella’s statement, published by stiripesurse.ro.
Meir Dagan passed away in March 2016.
On March 16, Zorella came for the second time in Romania and met Dragomir in a safe house, according to evz.ro. “There he received the money and Dragomir told him he knows Dagan made phone calls to Romania. He stated once again that the SRI Director approved of Black Cube agents working as one of SRI’s cells.”
Black Cube had clear tasks: to verify the accuracy of the data included in Laura Codruta Kovesi’s wealth statement, to verify the suspicions of revenge carried out against former DIICOT Director Alina Bica, the possible bribe taken by Kovesi’s father on behalf of his daughter and the possible existence of bank accounts in Switzerland and Cyprus. Dan Zorella stated however that his agents did not break into Laura Codruta Kovesi’s official email account.
According to the Black Cube CEO, the espionage activities continued even after two company employees – Ron and David – were arrested in Bucharest, Zorella thinking the arrest was caused by discrepancies between Romanian institutions. Two other Black Cube agents met in London a Romanian who had worked close to the DNA Chief Prosecutor, from whom they were hoping to obtain important data about illegal actions. The woman however did not offer information.
PSD’s Dragnea on Iohannis’s involvement in Black Cube: If information is real, he should have been summoned at DIICOT
PSD President Liviu Dragnea reacted on Friday too. He claimed that in case the press allegations concerning the Head of State’s involvement in the Black Cube case are real, Klaus Iohannis should have been summoned and heard at the DIICOT by now, since he can be investigated like any other Romanian citizen.
“Someone showed me what the press has published, it wasn’t a very big document any way. I have no other information. If that document is real, if that document is a real part of a statement (…) and is included in the case file at DIICOT, the first question I ask myself is: why hasn’t the President been summoned for hearings? Because any other Romanian citizen would have been summoned immediately, possibly under escort, to give explanations in this case or in others. I repeat, if this document is not a forgery and hasn’t been tampered with,” Liviu Dragnea stated on Friday when asked for his opinion on President Klaus Iohannis’s possible involvement in the Black Cube case, as reported by the press.
He said he finds it difficult to accept that “the Head of State would use this kind of profoundly illegal operation.”
“Basically, why would he remove Kovesi, based on what this document shows. Because this was basically Black Cube’s target, as seen in recent months. This would be the ultimate proof of hypocrisy: stating on television that you back the anticorruption fight and the one who leads this fight – Codruta Kovesi – an in reality covertly seeking to topple her. (…) If that document is real, the fact that he hasn’t been summoned for hearings, so far, is inadmissible. The President cannot be indicted, but nowhere in the Constitution does it say he cannot be investigated, such a stipulation does not exist and this immunity does not exist. I repeat, if what is there is real,” the PSD President pointed out.