A Romanian parliamentary committee, seeking to dispel EU fears, published a report last Wednesday saying that the country’s intelligence service was not tapping the telephones of EU officials and journalists. The committee initiated investigations earlier this month following claims by a local government official that Romania’s intelligence service had informed him of the content of calls made by journalists to the EU ambassador to Romania. Corneliu Rusu Banu, government representative for the northeastern county of Iasi, cited the intelligence service as his source and said that reporters called the EU ambassador to Romania looking for reaction to his suggestion that Gypsies should be kept out of public buildings. EU Ambassador Jonathan Scheele subsequently wrote to the government asking if his phones or those of journalists’ phones were tapped, and if so, whether that was actually legal. The Romanian Intelligence Service denied the charges and Banu later withdrew his allegations, resigning from his post last Monday giving as a reason that he wanted to protect the government’s image. Meanwhile, Ion Stan, a lawmaker chairing the committee overseeing the country’s main intelligence service said the committee discovered no evidence that journalists’, diplomats’ and EU officials’ telephones were being tapped by the intelligence service.
Stan, also a member of the governing Social Democratic Party, stated: “After interviewing the employees of the intelligence service in Iasi … we concluded that Banu was not given such information.” Stan said the committee would suggest changes to current legislation that would more closely regulate tapping of phone lines. The EU’s office in Romania gave no immediate reaction. (654)