The most important news on Thursday create a real obsession in newspapers today about the roles of intelligence services in communist and post-communist Romania. The heads of all three main such services resigned yesterday as a businessman charged with terrorism has gone missing.

A journalist reveals he collaborated with late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s Securitate. And the media is in turmoil over ownership pressures on the editorial management of a newspaper controlled by a politician suspected of providing information to the same communist political police.

A businessman of Arab descent, Omar Hayssam, charged with terrorism over the abduction of three Romanian journalists last year, went missing several weeks after his release pending the official investigation.

Because nobody seems to find him and amid allegations that he has left the country, the heads of the three most important intelligence services in Romania resigned following talks with President Traian Basescu yesterday.

“Hayssam signed the resignations of Fulga and Timofte”, headlines Cotidianul, referring to Radu Timofte, the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service - SRI, and Ioan Fulga, head of the Foreign Intelligence Service - SIE. Virgil Ardelean, of the intelligence department of the Interior Ministry, also resigned.

The newspaper believes the most probable replacements for the first two are Catalin Harnagea at the SIE and Sorin Frunzaverde at the SRI.

Adevarul tried to obtain explanations over the real causes of the resignations, but Ardelean and Timofte both refused to comment.

And the newspaper recalls that Basescu had pressed for the resignation of Timofte and Fulga before, but changed his mind due to their involvement in the recovery of the three journalists kidnapped in Iraq last year.

Gandul writes that Basescu was the one to call for the resignation of the intelligence heads. And it suggests other names as replacements - Radu Alexandru Cozac for the SRI and Filip Silviu Predoi for SIE.

But the President will have to negotiate a parliamentary majority to support his proposals, which will be rather difficult, as Jurnalul National points out.

Cotidianul, meanwhile, returns to a lasting debate on the journalists who used to collaborate the Securitate, the secret police of late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The newspaper interviews its own former editor-in-chief, Carol Sebastian, who admitted yesterday he was recruited by the Securitate in 1985 to inform on poet and faculty mate Andrei Bodiu.

Sebastian said he regretted what he did, that he informed the Securitate because he was blackmailed, while the newspaper defends him as a journalist who tried to wash away his sin by fighting the cause of his shame throughout his career as a journalist after 1989.

The same newspaper, however, quotes various journalists to push against the wall another senior journalist, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, the head of newspaper Ziua.

He admitted 14 years ago that he collaborated with the counter-intelligence of the Ceausescu regime in the eighties, but he returned to the forefront this week with an appeal supported by his newspaper that all journalists who collaborated with the Securitate should self-denounce or be denounced.

The appeal, launched by a civic association led by one of Stanescu’s editorial staff, has sparked huge controversies over the past two weeks.

But now a series of high-profile journalists quoted both by Cotidianul and Evenimentul Zilei say Stanescu has no moral authority to get involved in such a move.

The same two newspapers quote various journalists to criticize the owner of a major media group in Romania for interference with the editorial policies.

Their criticism is linked to Camelia Voiculescu, owner of the Intact group that includes newspaper Jurnalul National, TV stations Antena 1 and Antena 3 and other media outlets and who is the daughter of Dan Voiculescu, the leader of the Conservative Party, a junior member of the governing coalition.

Dan Voiculescu gained visibility over the past weeks because of revelations that he collaborated with the Securitate. His daughter Camelia requested the editor-in-chief of Jurnalul National this week to sanction a columnist for a series of “abuses” against her father, that were published in the newspaper.

Camelia Voiculescu’s intervention was itself an abuse, the media experts quoted by Evenimentul Zilei say.

The same newspaper quotes Remus Opris, a leader of the small Peasants Party, who said he was tailed by the Securitate when he was in school by a teenage informer.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Cotidianul reports that Defense Minister Teodor Atanasiu is one step away from being removed from office as a special commission debated a couple of criminal charges against him yesterday.

One of the charges was submitted by Presidential spokesperson Adriana Saftoiu, who said he committed an abuse in office when he said he had information he leaked information to the media.

The case was sparked by Atanasiu’s request on behalf of his Liberal Party recently that the Romanian troops withdraw from Iraq. The request has been rejected.

Adevarul believes chances are real that President Basescu will use the opportunity to hit his Liberal opponents - and partners within the governing coalition - with a push to oust Atanasiu from the government because of the criminal charges he has to face.