Romanian Intelligence Service
|Romanian Intelligence Service|
Romanian: Serviciul Român de Informaţii
|Formed||March 26, 1990|
|Annual budget||240 million Euros|
|Agency executives||George Cristian Maior, Director
Brig. Gen. Florian Coldea, First-Deputy Director
Lieutenant General Dumitru Ion Zamfir, Deputy Director
Colonel George-Viorel Voinescu, Deputy Director
The Romanian Intelligence Service (Romanian: Serviciul Român de Informaţii, abbreviated SRI) is Romania's domestic intelligence service. Its role is to gather information relevant to national security and hand it over to relevant institutions, such as Ministry of National Defense. The institution is authorized to intercept phone calls or any other form of telecommunication or radio waves. The agency (or any agents on its behalf) are not entitled to any inquiry or official investigation.
The Romanian Intelligence Service has its own university, Institutul Național de Informații.
Throughout the Communist era, the Securitate was the political police that was involved in repressing dissent. During the 1989 Romanian Revolution, soon after taking power, Ion Iliescu signed the decree which integrated the Securitate into the Ministry of Defense, thus bringing it under his control.
Iulian Vlad, the head of the Securitate, together with some of his deputies, were arrested on December 31, 1989; Iliescu named Gelu Voican Voiculescu as the new head of the Securitate. Voiculescu assured the Securitate agents that he does not intent to wage a war against individual Securitate officers and, by mid-January 1990, the Securitate officers continued their activity in their old headquarters. The press was informed (but not allowed to verify) that the equipment for tapping phones has been decommissioned.
The Romanian Intelligence Service was officially created on March 26, 1990, taking over the buildings, staff, equipment and virtually everything that belonged to the Securitate. Its creation occurred only a few days following the ethnic clashes of Târgu Mureș, being quickly created through a decree, its first director being Virgil Măgureanu.
SRI inherited Securitate's archives and it has been accused of destroying parts of it or supplying sensitive parts to certain politicians.
On June 22, 1990, SRI officers unloaded a truck full of Securitate documents in a forest in Berevoești, Argeș County, after which they buried them with soil. The documents intended to be destroyed were discovered by locals and, a year later, a group of journalists began digging the decaying documents and the România Liberă newspaper published several of them, including information on dissidents, being not only Securitate, but also of the newly created SRI. This led to the adoption of a law on state secrets, which banned publication of any SRI documents.
It was only in 2005 that the archives of the Securitate began to be transferred to an outside institution (CNSAS) with a first batch containing two-thirds of the total number of documents. The goal was to transfer all Securitate documents which "do not affect national security".
Involvement in the Mineriad
The extent of the involvement of the Romanian Intelligence Service in the violent repression of the 1990 anti-government protests has been a matter of debate. On June 12, 1990, the government decided that the Police and Army, in collaboration with the Intelligence Service, evacuate the protesters of University Square. During the violence that followed, the protesters attacked the headquarters of the Romanian Intelligence Service with rocks and Molotov cocktails.
The following days, miners brought by the government from the Jiu Valley violently repressed the protesters (killing several people and wounding thousands) and destroyed the opposition parties' headquarters. According to a letter to President Iliescu drafted by then-Prime Minister Petre Roman, the whole repression was organized by the secret services under the leadership of Virgil Măgureanu using the network of the Securitate. This view is supported by military prosecutor Dan Voinea, who said that all the miner groups were escorted by police and SRI agents who led them to the headquarters of parties and NGOs.
During the 2000s, Virgil Măgureanu, the head of the SRI at the time, has been investigated by prosecutors (together with other leaders including President Ion Iliescu) for several counts including genocide and torture, however they decided in 2009 not to charge him with any crime.
In 1996, a former SRI employee, Constantin Bucur was the whistleblower who alerted the media that the Romanian Intelligence Service was performing illegal phone tappings of politicians, journalists and other public figures. Bucur was convicted for revealing top secret information, but he won a trial against the Romanian state after appealing at the European Court of Human Rights.
Mircea Toma, one of the journalists whose phone had been tapped also sued the Romanian state for wiretapping and preserving private conversations with his daughter, Sorana. He also won a compensation the disrespect of the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Romanian Intelligence Service refused to collaborate with the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that its documents are state secrets.
The president of the Group of Political Investigations (a Romanian organization that independently monitors the activity of state agencies), Mugur Ciuvică, has stated that he has evidence of ongoing illegal phone tappings.
According to Ilie Botoș, the Attorney General of Romania, between 1991 and 2003 the phones of 20,000 people have been tapped. Between 1991 and 2002, a number of 14,000 authorizations were given by the government for national security-related issues. Between 1996 and 2003 further 5500 authorizations were given related to organized and white-collar crime; out of these 5500 suspects, only 238 were convicted. For the year 2005, a number of 6370 phones belonging to 2373 people were tapped, the average tapping being of 220 days.
In 2006, a new illegal wiretapping scandal erupted after transcripts of businessman Dinu Patriciu's phone discussions with his associates were leaked to the press. Patriciu sued the Intelligence Service and won a compensation of 50,000 lei in 2011. A further case of potentially illegal wiretappings is the one of European Court of Human Rights judge Corneliu Bîrsan, whose wiretappings under the guise of "national security" are now being investigated by a parliamentary commission created by the Romanian Senate on April 8, 2013.
Relationship with the press
The Romanian Intelligence Service had an uneasy relationship with the press, which it monitored, infiltrated and accused of being a national security liability. In 2010, "the press" has been included in the list of national vulnerabilities in the "National Strategy for the Defence of the Country".
An early controversy occurred in 1996, when Tana Ardeleanu (a journalist for Ziua who had published some articles about President Ion Iliescu) had been shadowed by SRI agents. Amid press anger, SRI director Virgil Măgureanu admitted that SRI agents followed Ardeleanu and argued that the surveillance was a "mistake" and that the agents thought they were following two suspected spies.
The existence of infiltrated SRI agents in the press has been publicly known since 2006, when the press officer of SRI claimed that the Service has always had moles in the Romanian press arguing that it's not illegal. This claim has been quite controversial, as, according to Cristian Tudor Popescu, journalists are not a threat to national security and, according to historian Marius Oprea, this leads to suspicions about whether the SRI has political police activities.
The Jurnalul Național newspaper fired its editor-in-chief, Valentin Zaschievici, in August 2012, accusing him of being an infiltrated SRI agent, following the leak of some SRI documents by Cotidianul. The Romanian Intelligence Service admitted that the documents were indeed genuine, but it claimed that their agent was only monitoring the leaking of secret documents to the press.
In 2013, George Maior, the Director of the Service, accused the press of organizing an attack campaign against the Romanian Intelligence Service, giving as example the investigations over the illegal CIA prisons in Bucharest (Bright Light), which he argued that is exposing Romania to terrorist attacks.
SRI during the 2000s
On 28 February 2008, the Romanian counter-intelligence officers arrested a Bulgarian military attache, Petar Marinov Zikolov, and a Romanian NCO, Floricel Achim. They have been prosecuted with charges of espionage. It is believed that the leaked information might have been sent to Russia or Ukraine. The Bulgarians have denied any connection with Zikolov. This has been one of the few espionage cases that have received media attention.
National Alert System
The National Alert System (Sistemul Național de Alertă Teroristă in Romanian) is the Romanian terrorist barometer. SNA is a system that, based on existing intelligence from SRI, SIE and possibly other agencies, ranks the risk of a terrorist attack on Romanian territory. The system is color based (green-low to red-imminent). The color can be changed (and therefore security measures increased) with the prior approval of the executive of SRI.
Currently, SNA is colored blue-cautious; this means that the intelligence on hand suggests there is a relatively low risk of a terrorist attack.
The color has only been changed once (to red-high) at the 2008 NATO Bucharest summit.
The number of employees is officially secret, however newspaper Adevărul was able to find in 2006 an estimate of 12,000 agents, a figure confirmed by former SIE director Cătălin Harnagea. According to former DIE general Ion Mihai Pacepa, this figure is double the number of agents of the similar service of France (which has a larger population than Romania) and larger than Germany's secret services, Pacepa noting the unusual size of Romania's secret services, leading to claims that Ceaușescu's police state has been incompletely dismantled and that the number of officers has actually increased since 1989.
- 2008: 1039 million lei
- 2009: 1032 million lei
- 2010: 957 million lei
- 2011: 907 million lei
- 2012: 989 million lei
- 2013: 1043 million lei
- "Mai mulţi ofiţeri de informaţii pe cap de locuitor decât în perioada comunistă". Adevărul. April 4, 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Monitorul Oficial, Partea I nr. 2 December 25, 1989
- Marius Oprea. "Mostenitorii Securitatii - in primii ani de democratie". Sfera. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Doua treimi din arhivele Securitatii vor fi transferate la CNSAS". hotnews. March 1, 2005. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Romanian Intelligence Service, Comunicat de presă
- Miclescu, Corneliu (June 13, 2007). "Şaptesprezece ani de la 'mineriada' din iunie 1990". BBC. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Ciliac, Alexandra (June 17, 2013). "Mineriada din 1990 a fost ORCHESTRATĂ de Virgil Măgureanu. Fostul șef SRI e acuzat în dosar". Evenimentul Zilei. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Ruscior, Cosmin (June 14, 2010). "Voinea : Mineriada, un act terorist al instituţiilor represive ale statului". Radio France Internationale. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Iliescu, iertat definitiv pentru Mineriada". România Liberă. June 19, 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Constantin Bucur si Mircea Toma, despagubiti de CEDO, in urma unor interceptari SRI". hotnews. January 8, 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "România plătește la CEDO telefoanele ascultate în țară", Apador-CH, January 10, 2013
- Roportal.ro, The GIP President, Mugur Ciuvică: SRI snoops on the National Liberal Party at Băsescu's orders
- ""Timpanul" SRI costă cât bugetul Culturii". Adevărul. February 15, 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "ICCJ: Dinu Patriciu va primi 50.000 de lei despagubiri de la SRI, pentru ca i-au fost ascultate ilegal telefoanele". hotnews. February 18, 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Câteva cazuri de ofiţeri acoperiţi din presa românească". Cațavencii. September 5, 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Băleanu, Virgil George (1996). A Clear and Present Danger to Democracy: The New Romanian Security Services are Still Watching. Conflict Studies Research Centre, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
- "SRI, ia-ti cartitele din presa!". Evenimentul Zilei. July 25, 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Redactor-şef de la "Jurnalul Naţional", dat afară pentru colaborare cu SRI". Adevărul. August 16, 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "George Maior, directorul SRI: presa ne împiedică să ne facem activitatea și ne expune pericolului terorist". Jurnalul Național. February 22, 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- (Romanian) Official site
- (Romanian) Chronology
- (English) Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, PDF
- (English) Balkanalysis.com, The Romanian Secret Services, Politics and the Media: a Strategic Overview