Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Friday that he will request to the Public Ministry – the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), on Monday, to declassify the protocols concluded with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).
Minister Tudorel Toader made the announcement during an intervention at Antena 3 private television station, after Prime Minister Viorica Dancila requested the declassification of protocols concluded between the SRI and other institutions of the state.
“I will see the Prime Minister’s request, see whether or not it covers, too, the request to the Public Ministry and within the limits of my legal powers, under the article 132 of the Constitution, which states that prosecutors shall carry out their activity [in accordance with the principle of legality, impartiality and hierarchical control], under the authority of the Minister of Justice, not as someone has wrongly said under the control of the Minister of Justice (…). If it doesn’t refer to the Public Ministry part, as Minister, first thing on Monday morning, I am to request the declassification of the protocol or protocols,” Toader stated.
The Justice Minister added that the request of PM Dancila is a step towards normality.
Tudorel Toader also referred to Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT) release, which reveals that the institution didn’t issue any decision to approve the signing of some protocols between the SRI and the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
“If the CSAT stated it doesn’t have the authority to declassify, when reading the release, it is also understood that, indirectly, the existence of protocols is admitted, which is a very good thing. We are being told that they exist, at the highest rank,” Toader said.
PM Dancila requests declassification of protocols concluded between SRI and other institutions of state
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila requested “the declassification of protocols concluded between the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and other institutions of the state,” according to a release of the Government sent to AGERPRES.
The quoted source mentions that the Prime Minister’s demarche resulted following “the public interest regarding the clarification of some extremely important matters for the functioning of Romania as a democratic state in which the separation of powers functions, as well as the official position expressed today by the Presidential Administration.”
Presidency: CSAT didn’t approve by decisions the conclusion of protocols between SRI and DNA, or between SRI and other entities
The Supreme Council of National Defence didn’t approve, by Decisions, the conclusion of protocols between the Romanian Intelligence Service and the National Anticorruption Directorate, or between the Romanian Intelligence Service and other state entities, and it didn’t establish, by the provisions of the approved decisions, additional attributions for them. The protocols have been concluded either at the Romanian Intelligence Service’s request, or at the request of the other involved entities, according to certain provisions of their own laws or regulations on their organization and functioning, the Presidential Administration mentions.
On Friday, Presidential Administration issued a press release following the statements recently circulated in the public space, related to the secret protocols concluded between the Romanian Intelligence Service and other institutions, based on Decisions of the Supreme Council of National Defence, as well as to their declassification.
According to the legal prerogatives provided by the Romanian Constitution and the Law on its organizing and functioning no.415/2002, the Supreme Council of National Defence is the autonomous administrative authority invested with the organization and coordination of the activities related to the country’s defence and to the national security. By its decisions, the Supreme Council of National Defence established the strategic general coordination framework on fields such as combatting organized crime and corruption, smuggling, combatting tax evasion, preventing and combatting terrorism, reads the press release.
According to the quoted source, the conclusion of protocols between the institutions of the Romanian state wasn’t concretely established or imposed by the decisions of the Supreme Council of National Defence, or in order to implement their provisions.
Presidency mentions that these protocols are bilateral or multilateral agreements, concluded with the consent of the involved parties, in the compliance of the provisions of their own laws and regulations on their organizing and functioning.
By the adopted decisions, the Supreme Council of National Defence didn’t establish, for the competent state institutions, additional attributions compared to those provided by the normative acts which regulate their organization and functioning. At the CSAT level, only action lines and general measures for the prevention and removal of the risks and threats against national security have been approved, under the Law no.415/2002, according to the press release.
“Therefore, the Supreme Council for National Defence didn’t approve, by Decisions, the conclusion of protocols between the Romanian Intelligence Service and the National Anticorruption Directorate, or between the Romanian Intelligence Service and other state entities, and it didn’t establish, by the provisions of the approved Decisions, additional attributions for them. The protocols have been concluded either at the Romanian Intelligence Service’s request, or at the request of the other involved entities, according to certain provisions of their own laws or regulations on their organization and functioning. Part of the protocols concluded between the Romanian intelligence Service and other institutions of the Romanian state have been already provided to the Parliamentary Committee for the SRI control, upon its request” the presidential Administration points out.
Regarding the declassification, the applicable national legal framework, namely the Law no.182/2002, G.D. no.585/2002 and G.D. no.781/2002 provide that: the classified information in the state secret category can be declassified by the Government’s Decision, at the motivated request of the issuer; declassification, or transition to a lower classification level is made by the persons or public authorities in charge with approving the classification and the level of secrecy of those information; the information is declassified if: a. the classification term has expired; b. the disclosure or the information can no longer prejudice national security, country’s defence, public order or the interests of the public or private law persons which are holding them; c. the classification was assigned by a person that wasn’t empowered by the law. The information in the work secret category is declassified by the managers of the issuer units.
“Since the Supreme Council of National Defence didn’t issue Decisions imposing the conclusion of protocols between the Romanian Intelligence Service and other entities, or Decisions approving such protocols, their declassification is not the responsibility of the Council, and even less of the Romanian President” reads the release.
Tariceanu on declassification of protocols: Must be done as fast as possible
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Saturday evening that the declassification of the protocols signed by the DNA must be done “as fast as possible,” adding that the attitude that the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister expressed in this sense is “very healthy and correct from a political and juridical standpoint.”
“What I find much more important is the Prime Minister and Justice Minister taking attitude, and I believe the attitude they have expressed is very healthy and correct from a political and juridical standpoint, and I believe this declassification must be done as fast as possible. I have seen that the Justice Minister has taken the commitment to do this, I believe also as a result of the Prime Minister’s statement. I believe it is time to bring to light all these things that have allowed the abuses we have known for approximately ten years, abuses that have led to the grave violation of rights and freedoms in Romania, of all categories. We are talking here not only about politicians, we are talking about businessmen, about well-known persons from the university milieu, because we know this phone tapping practice based on so-called national security warrants was recently censured by the Constitutional Court’s decision too. I believe at this moment we need clarification and we need to place a very tight sieve for these abuses to no longer occur, and that is why the Prime Minister’s and Justice Minister’s decision should be saluted,” Tariceanu stated for RTV.
In what concerns the President’s position on this issue, Tariceanu said that “it’s a kind of empty talk.”
Asked about Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s or Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s possibilities to force the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) to declassify these protocols, the Senate Speaker said that the SRI is not subordinated to the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT).
“The SRI is a structure that operates under Romanian authorities. So, the SRI cannot neglect this request, if it comes from the Prime Minister, to declassify these protocols. But these protocols were drafted by the SRI and the DNA and maybe by the other prosecutor’s offices. The Public Ministry operates under the authority of the Justice Minister and the Justice Minister, in his capacity, is the one who can decide to declassify these protocols drafted at the level of the Public Ministry. I don’t believe a joint position of the CSAT is needed, because these things are not issues that concern national security in any form. They have a different component, namely the expansion of SRI’s activities, in the past, in the judicial system, which is very grave,” Tariceanu claimed.
He added that “finding out the truth is not a burden, it’s everyone’s obligation, starting with the President of Romania, who cannot try to hide these grave things that he has so far ignored out for reasons relating to a personal interest, because he is the product of this perverted Romanian system, of course he didn’t move a finger.”
“I don’t expect any healthy reaction on the part of the President, he will always try to cover these things up, but now I don’t think he can still do that,” Tariceanu pointed out.
The Senate Speaker said he does not know whether the setting up of a parliamentary committee on this issue will be needed.
“I don’t believe it’s the Intelligence Committee’s business, nor do I know whether we will have to decide on a parliamentary committee, I believe the protocols must be declassified. The moment they are declassified we will be able to know more, more precisely, about what needs to be done. I believe that both the Justice Minister and probably the ICCJ [High Court of Justice] and the CCR [Constitutional Court of Romania] will continue to have a very important role here,” Tariceanu concluded.
The history of the secret protocols. How the anticorruption fight became an “order” for SRI
65 protocols were in force at the end of last year, between SRI and the state institutions, in the circumstances in which the Presidency announce today that none of them was concluded at the CSAT’s initiative, but at the initiative of SRI or other institutions. The most controversial one is the one related to Justice.
In October 2017, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for the Control of the Activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), Claudiu Manda, stated that there are 65 protocols in force concluded between the Romanian Intelligence Service and various state institutions, but the members of the Committee couldn’t check yet what is the extent to which these protocols comply with the existing laws.
Also, not less than 52 institutions concluded protocols for data protection.
A few months before this, SRI head Eduard Hellvig announced that he decided to denounce all the protocols concluded between SRI and other institutions which are not correlated to the legislative changes appeared since the moment of their conclusion.
According to Mediafax, it results from here that the number of protocols was much higher at the beginning of the last year.
The most controversial protocol continues to be the one concluded between the Romanian Intelligence Service and the General Prosecutor’s Office. The National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) and the Association of the Romanian Magistrates (AMR) requested to the Supreme Council of National Defence to declassify the document. UNJR said that the relations between the prosecution offices and the intelligence services have been materialized in “forming mixed teams, with representatives of the criminal prosecution bodies, in order to counteract the risk resulted from carrying out criminal activities”.
Dana Girbovan’s statement was made in the context in which the SRI Secretary General Dumitru Dumbrava previously stated that justice has become a “tactical field” for the Service.
“If several years ago we appreciated that we reached our objective with the PNA notification, for instance, if we were withdrawing from the tactical field later, with the notification of the court by the indictment, appreciating (naively, we could say today) that our mission was finalized, today we maintain our interest/attention until the final solution of each case. This working manner, in which we are involved together with prosecutors, judges, DGA workers or workers of other similar structures, has also punctually revealed issues related to the corruption in the judiciary, under limits that must not be tolerated, nor exaggerated. I think the important thing is that the judiciary develops the necessary antibodies to cure this pathology” the SRI Secretary General Dumitru Dumbrava was stating in 2015.
The most controversial protocol was based on:
The CSAT Decision no.17 of 2015, by which corruption was declared as a vulnerability of the national defence.
The Cooperation Protocol between the Prosecutor’s Office attached to ICCJ and SRI, for fulfilling their duties in the national security field no.003064 of February 2, 2009.
“Following the decisions of the decision makers, there have been collaboration protocols concluded with the law enforcement bodies. I can tell you that under these protocols, the SRI officers provided specialized technical assistance, and they didn’t carry out criminal investigation activities. In other words, executing their mandates was a provision of the operative and technical surveillance services in these cases, based on and under the limits of their mandates, and they are currently collaborating with the law enforcement bodies” Eduard Hellvig stated in January 2017.
In March 2017, the Romanian Intelligence Service stated that SRI’s relations with other authorities were established according to a CSAT decision.
“SRI’s collaboration with the other public institutions and authorities, including with the Public Finance Ministry, is based on art.14 of the Law no.14/1992 on the SRI’s organization and functioning, as subsequently amended and supplemented. In this case, the decision belonged to all the decision makers in the institutions of the Romanian state represented in CSAT, including the Romanian President and the Prime-Minister; the Romanian Intelligence Service implemented CSAT’s decision later” pointed out the SRI press release at that time.
A few months later, after Florian Coldea left SRI, he was stating that the fight against corruption was imposed to the Intelligence Service, thus becoming an “order”.
“In 2005, by the CSAT decision, the corruption phenomenon was included in the series of the threats against the national security. Also, starting from 2005-2006, corruption was included each year among the priorities of the National Plan of Informative Priorities, a document approved by CSAT. (…) There is also a responsibility of SRI, as I said, it was imposed by CSAT, regarding issues related to fighting against corruption, but I’m not sure if I should seriously take into account the reproaches according to which we did too much, or those saying that we did too little. (…) Also at the annual report meeting, in the presence of the head of CSAT, the results and the expected measures for carrying out the activities in this matter have been presented. From this point of view, fighting against corruption has become, under the limits of the law, an obligation for the Romanian Intelligence Service. In a free translation, it has become an order to us” Coldea was saying in an interview for ziare.com
The protocol concluded between the Prosecution Office and SRI was also mentioned by the Judicial Inspection in an answer provided to businessman Sorin Strutinsky, who notified that there are two SRI units included in the chapter related to the beneficiaries of the interceptions.
“Using SRI’s support, another activity challenged by the petitioner, was conducted according to the provisions of the art. 1, art.3 lett.f of the National Security Law no.51 of 1991, taking into account the CSAT Decision no.17 of February 28, 2005, which integrated the matter of the corruption and the fight against it in the structure of the National Security strategy, as a risk factor, namely a national security risk, the corruption issue being resumed in the national defence strategy in 2010, in which corruption was defined as a vulnerability with implications on the functioning of the state institutions”.
Asked if there was any protocol concluded between SRI and DNA, Adrian Tutuianu, who was the Chairman of the Committee for the SRI Control at that time, answered: “Between PICCJ and SRI. DNA is a structure of this Prosecutor’s Office”. Thus, although the cooperation between DNA and SRI wasn’t regulated by the existence of a protocol directly concluded between the two institutions, it was based on the protocol concluded in 2009 with the Public Ministry, when the General Prosecutor of Romania was the current head of DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi.
The involvement of the SRI officers in the prosecutors’ activity was known in the judiciary before the CCR decision that established that SRI interceptions in criminal cases is unconstitutional; certain groups were discussing on the close cooperation between prosecution offices and SRI, especially regarding the corruption cases.
Specifically, judicial sources explained for MEDIAFAX that by notifying prosecutors on certain possible deeds and by making interception/monitoring activities, the officers were doing their job, and additional involvement was possible or not depending on the approval of each prosecutor. The quoted sources mentioned that in this context, since the work of the investigators is facilitated by the contribution of the SRI officers, a tacit intrusion is not excluded, and sometimes the control seems to be taken on an investigation, meaning that more than necessary information is obtained related to the investigations in a specific case.
After the CCR decision, the Service kept its attribution to inform DNA, but the cooperation is not so close as before.
A signal was also the absence of the SRI head Eduard Hellvig from the presentation of the last two activity reports of DNA.
The information according to which the declassification of these protocols could reveal more cases of abuse was circulated repeatedly in the public space.