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Public Learns Only Now Of Two Romanians Arrested In October on Spy Charges in Iraq

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Autor: Radu Tudor 01 Feb 2007 - 00:00
The news that American troops arrested three months ago, in Iraq, two Romanian workers on spy charges, shocked the Romanian public opinion.
The two men - a carpenter and an electrician - worked for bottling mineral water for the US troops when they were apprehended with photos of the US military base on their electronic equipment.

For the Romanian authorities the news is one more embarrassment, if indeed the two men will be found guilty as charged, on top of the major fault of not having informed the public in due time.
Having the media digging up the case and presenting it is a major blow to the Government credibility, which proves an approach similar to the communist times authorities, when it comes to communicating the unpleasant truth.
As a European, democratic nation, we should have gotten used to the mature behavior of political and administrative institutions, which keep public opinion informed.

That the issue is a hot potato authorities should have gotten out in the open to cool it down is amply proven by the flood of media reports on it, since the news broke. The authorities chose instead to keep quiet, though having two Romanian citizens arrested in Iraq on spy charges was fully known by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The same authorities also seem unable to grasp the fact that the media is the best ally to advance one’s stance and sensitize the American authorities into a swift resolution of the case.

The secrecy is even more baffling since Romania is a partner in the coalition fighting in Iraq, with the Romanian military and the Pentagon, as well as the Romanian intelligence and the CIA having long-lasting relationships, which would have enabled solving the case in less than 30 days.

It would be indeed very embarrassing to find out that Romania spied on its ally. However, there are two other options on how managed the two Romanians to get arrested.
One is that they are just morons, who thought were doing a swell job photographing the military premises, and getting photos to brag about to relatives and friends back home.
The other more sinister option is that they were tempted by money put forward by members of the local terrorist groups, and indeed agreed to take pictures for them, as it seems the Americans charged them with.

No matter the truth on their alleged guilt, fact is Romanians and Americans are faced with double standards when breaking the law on each others turf or territory. Romania’s ambassador not even got access to visit the two Romanians, to provide them with translators and a lawyer that would ensure their right to a fair trial was not being curtailed.
Whereas the US marine killing two years ago a Romanian rock star in a car accident was whisked out of Romania the same night, with no chance for Romania’s judiciary to put him on trial. This fact ensured he got as much as a slap on the hand from the US military justice system.

The double standard cannot go well with the Romanian public and is likely to endanger the long lasting love it had for the Americans.

Translated by ANCA PADURARU
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