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Sex and espionage in post-war Romania

The Romanian communist secret police at times went to great lengths to recruit assets

Sex and espionage in post-war Romania
Sex and espionage in post-war Romania

, 10.07.2023, 14:00


Intelligence is a world where cynicism thrives. This has always been the case, irrespective of countries and times. Secret services stopped at nothing to achieve their goals. Obviously, sex and romance were methods used to obtain classified information. The Romanian intelligence services made no exception to this rule. After 1945, with the installation of communist authorities, intelligence services were also used as an instrument to apply political pressure, outside their original design. As such, they became known as the Securitate. It planned and carried out operations focusing on sex and romance in order to recruit persons of interests from the point of view of intelligence.




General Neagu Cosma was the director of Romanias counterespionage agency over 1950-1974. In a 2002 interview for the Center of Oral History of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation, the general talked about intimate and emotional relations used to recruit assets as one of the practices used by the Securitate. The communist regime had imposed a certain moral conduct for officers, which in this respect often turned out to be an obstacle.




“I recall one particular case, when one of our agents was trying to seduce an American. She was an extraordinary woman, with powerful connections abroad. After a couple of days our boy reports General, this is as far as I go! Either you let me sleep with her or I will go no further! This womans crazy, shes infatuated with me. What should I do? How do I proceed? The special intelligence service had no qualms about this approach, it would have otherwise told him go get her! So I talk to Drăghici, the Interior Minister, and tell him Minister, weve reached this point, the case is very promising considering who this woman is and her connections. She had this uncle, some wealthy senator. Look, Drăghici tells me, this means overlooking the moral conduct. I told him this would mean letting her go. I asked for an exemption from rules of moral conduct, which we were given. They got married, our boy moved abroad and a made a fortune”.




At the end of the 1960s, the Securitate tried to recruit the cipher decoder of the British embassy in Bucharest, also opting for the method of seduction. Neagu Cosma recalls.




“We had a whole army of women at our disposal which we would use, its not an exaggeration. For instance, this Englishman worked as an encrypter, a high-profile position at the embassy. He was single, so I assigned his case to a highly experienced agent. He would go out for a beer at night, and slowly he fell crazy in love with our agent. He was 55, she was 25, he had taken a shine to her. So we followed standard procedure, the works – pictures, recordings, wiretaps, until we asked her to tell him the Securitate had gotten to her, asking for information about him. Go ahead, darling, tell them everything he would sing-song to her. And it worked, he was a promising asset”.




Yet the Securitate wanted to get its hands on the British cipher at all costs, and ordered its agent to ask the diplomat to marry her.




“She talked him into marrying here, having both civil and religious services in Romania. They couldnt perform the religious service at the city hall, so I brought in another agent acting as a priest, as he was a very religious man himself. One evening we invited them to our home, and we had a service proper, veil and everything. We videotaped the whole thing. And we were sure he was ours. After a while, our girl told him the Securitate was asking about him again and wanted to talk to him. We set up a meeting. He was reluctant at first, saying Do you know what would happen to me if they found out? They wont, we said. He kept it a secret for three days before reporting everything to his superiors. He was on the next flight out of Romania”.




Another example was the operation to recruit the cypher decoder of the Austrian embassy, this time a female diplomat.




“She wasnt a person of particular interest to us, but obtaining the Austrian cipher was a big deal. The woman was unmarried. We conducted a similar operation, we introduced her to one of our agents, and he managed to seduce the woman. We had set up a surveillance kit in venues where they met to have their fun, and we recorded everything. They were into deviant sexual behavior as well, and we had amassed quite a collection. Later, we confronted her. It was a mistake on our behalf. She examined the photos and said Gentlemen, can I have a copy please? I dont have any such pictures of myself. So we realized blackmail wont work. We offered her to work for us, and she said she would think it over. Two days later, she left her post”.




The Romanian Securitate tried to secure access to classified information using sex and romance, commonplace instruments used all over the world. While some of its attempts were successful, others failed. (VP)




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