Update: Secret protocol between SRI and Prosecutor General’s Office – released. No surprises, says the service’s spokesman

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The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) has posted the Protocol on Collaboration with the Prosecutor General’s Office upon the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court) regarding the fulfilment of their national security tasks, on its website.

On March 16, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced that he would ask for declassification, by the Public Ministry and DNA, of the protocols concluded with the SRI, antena3.ro reports.

Subsequently, SRI Director, Eduard Hellvig, expressed his willingness to declassify the protocol. The announcement was made on March 19 by the chairman of the SRI Parliamentary Committee for SRI activity overseeing, Claudiu Manda.

Ovidiu Marincea (photo), spokesman for the Romanian Intelligence Service, said Thursday evening that the SRI Officers did not conduct criminal investigations with prosecutors, their duty being to provide information to prosecutors.

“I believe you will not have any surprises when reading this protocol, because you will find (…) that this protocol and its preamble provide the rules that both institutions must observe when applying the law, it speaks about rights and the freedoms of the citizens, which must be respected. In this protocol, CSAT decisions are mentioned (…) and I do not believe you will find anything illegal. If someone, on either side, has ever done anything illegal in his activity, this should immediately reach the prosecutors’ table,” Marincea said.

He stated that, following the Constitutional Court’s decision 51/2016, the cooperation protocol between the SRI and the Prosecutor General’s Office hasn’t been applied anymore.

The SRI spokesman also explained what the ‘joint teams’ were based on the collaboration protocol.

“It is very interesting that the term ‘joint team’ (…) did not appear in 2009, when the protocol was signed, the first time this term was used in a CSAT decision before 2005. (…) This term has given rise to many controversies, because many people have imagined that SRI Officers could have exceeded their powers. But the SRI officers, in a mixed team, provided information, under the law, to prosecutors, and further on, the prosecutors by using that information, also according to the law, were supposed to produce evidence and then provide it to the courts,” Marincea said.

He also presented the reason why the protocol concluded with the Prosecutor General’s Office, as well as other collaboration protocols concluded between the SRI and various state institutions, was classified.

“According to the law (…), the means and methods by which the Romanian Intelligence Service operates are classified information. What you find out in the protocols in these bilateral agreements are the means and methods used by the SRI in general. (…) I do not believe it is in the interest of the Romanian state that the means and methods used by the service in that bilateral agreement should be made public, which is why they are all classified,” the SRI spokesman said.

He also confirmed that the SRI has protocols concluded with other state institutions such as CNAS, the Payment and Social Inspection Agency, AJOFM, the Labour Inspectorate and the Ministry of Culture.

The protocol’s provisions

The document sets out how and when SRI Officers could assist the prosecutors in the field of information protection, but also when the intelligence officers could supervise and investigate for the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).

The Protocol also stipulates that SRI Officers carry out, under the law, upon the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, specific activities for obtaining data and information to organize or carry out some offenses. At the same time, the Service had to make available to the Prosecutor’s Office the data, information and documents, “in compliance with the legal provisions on access to classified information, which can support the documentation of the cases in progress.”

“This information must contain sufficient identifying elements for the adoption of specific measures and can be used in the prosecution,” the document reads. The SRI Officers also supported the completion of information in the complex cases at the Prosecutor’s Office “on the purpose in which it carries out investigative and operative surveillance activities. (…) It provides technical support for activities involving the use of specific technical means.”

Article 34 of the Protocol mentions that the SRI “shall ensure the recording of communications or conversations resulting from interception on in-built data devices made available by the prosecutor, as well as their sending to the Prosecutor’s Office or to the territorial prosecutor’s offices”, and the Service shall “ensure the transcription of communications or conversations deemed relevant in the case.”

“For the operational use of mobile equipment in order to identify and locate the persons under surveillance, who use mobile terminals”, the Prosecutor’s Office or the territorial prosecutor’s offices had to submit to the “specialized unit of the Service the authorization documents issued according to the law, which will include the decision on interception and recording of conversations “.

According to the SRI-Public Ministry protocol, in regard to the responsibilities of the Prosecutor’s Office, it includes the verification of the proposals made by the SRI through the designated prosecutors and the request to the Supreme Court’s Chairman for authorizing the mandates to perform information gathering activities.

Altogether, the document states that SRI Officers and prosecutors may set up joint operational teams “to act based on action plans for the exercise of specific competencies of the parties”. SRI also undertakes to provide “free of charge assistance in the protection of classified information held and used by the Prosecutor’s Office” and to prevent the leakage of data and information.

Moreover, the SRI was to grant specialized legal assistance, under the law, to the prosecutors carrying out the criminal prosecution, as well as specialized technical assistance to prosecutors for the administration of evidence “where special knowledge or technical facilities are required or in cases in which people with a protected identity are recorded.”

The SRI Officers have also helped to create “informational mechanisms” to ensure operative communication. At the same time, the protocol shows that SRI Officers and the prosecutors have participated in joint programs of training, specialization, training or professional development.

Regarding the Field of Cooperation, the protocol states that the two institutions cooperate “in the activity of capitalising the information in the field of prevention and fight against crimes against national security, acts of terrorism, crimes that correspond to the threats to the national security and other serious crimes, according to the law,” reads the second section of the document.


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