Romania's justice minister has raised eyebrows in the European Union by sending his EU counterparts a letter arguing against the appointment of the country's former anti-corruption chief as EU prosecutor.
In the letter, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader accuses Laura Codruta Koevesi of signing "secret and antidemocratic pacts" with Romania's intelligence agencies in order to cooperate with them on investigations linked to national security or corruption.
"The protocols, since ruled unconstitutional, bring to mind the intermingling of politics, intelligence, and law enforcement so notorious in our nation during communist rule," the letter published in Romanian media said on February 13.
Koevesi, 45, led Romania's National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) from 2013 to 2018 before being controversially removed by Toader at his left-wing government's behest.
Koevesi has since emerged as the leading candidate to become head of the new European Public Prosecutor's Office, which is scheduled to become operational by the end of 2020.
During Koevesi's time as head of the DNA, hundreds of dignitaries, elected officials, and business people were sent to prison on convictions for corruption.
The governing coalition as well as influential businesspeople and former politicians, some of whom went to prison for corruption, say the DNA colluded with parts of the justice system and the intelligence services, acting as a shadowy "deep state."
However, Koevesi remains popular among a majority of Romanians, who see her as a symbol of the anti-corruption fight. Huge anti-corruption protests took place in 2017 and 2018 across the country, many of them under the slogan "DNA will take you away," directed at the political elite.
The DNA's success has been regularly praised by EU institutions, while the government has come under steady criticism from Brussels over proposed judicial reforms that could weaken the independence of the justice system.
Liviu Dragnea, the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) and speaker of the lower house of parliament, has been convicted of abuse of power with the help of the DNA and has a second pending sentence for corruption.
The government, which took over the EU's rotating presidency for the first time last month, has made clear its opposition to Koevesi taking the job in Brussels.
The EU is expected to approve a candidate for the new post at the beginning of next month.