A human rights group has criticized an agreement between Romania's intelligence agency and the high court, saying it raised questions about protecting ordinary citizens from potential abuse

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A human rights group on Tuesday criticized a phone tapping agreement between Romania’s intelligence agency and the high court, saying it exposes ordinary citizens to potential abuse.

The High Court of Cassation and Justice, prosecutors and the Romanian Intelligence Service signed a secret protocol in 2009 in which the agency promised to provide technical infrastructure for prosecutors and protect classified data obtained from legal phone and electronic tapping. The agreement was published on Monday.

The Human Rights in Romania-Helsinki Committee Association criticized the deal, saying close links between the courts and intelligence agents could lead to civil rights’ abuses. It noted that the court had rejected just one of 26,500 phone tapping requests made on national security grounds.

Senior members of the ruling Social Democratic Party claim 6 million people have been tapped in recent years and say Romania is controlled by forces in the justice system and intelligence agency which are outside party control — something they call a “parallel state.”

The Social Democrats and their allies are currently pushing through laws which critics say would curb prosecutorial powers and make it harder to punish high-level corruption.

Almost three decades after communism ended, some ordinary Romanians believe the state intelligence agency taps their phones and bugs their homes.

The Securitate communist secret police kept close tabs on Romanian citizens, with an army of informers and agents who listened to phones and reported on dissent.