Romanian president accuses PM of being a former spy ahead of presidential race; PM denies

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Romania's outgoing president has claimed that the prime minister and leading candidate for the presidency is a former spy.

President Traian Basescu said late Monday in a television interview that Prime Minister Victor Ponta had been an undercover officer for Romania's Foreign Intelligence Service from 1997 to 2001 when he was a prosecutor. Ponta, 42, immediately rejected the accusation as "all lies."

Basescu, who as president appoints the chiefs of the two main intelligence services, did not produce evidence. He said, however, that Ponta's rapid career advancement from a district prosecutor's office to the general prosecutor's office was due to his links to the spy service. He said it was inappropriate to be both a prosecutor and a spy.

Basescu is a political rival of Ponta's but will not run in the election and steps down next month after 10 years.

It is the latest twist involving Romania's influential intelligence services. Last month, the head of foreign intelligence Teodor Melescanu stepped down to run for president days after a television journalist revealed he also had been an undercover officer.

Melescanu said Tuesday that Basescu had asked for and been given access to a list of all undercover officers in Romania.

Romania has two main intelligence agencies and five smaller agencies that do not answer to Parliament.