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Romanian Defector Describes Executed Dictator’s Escape Plan

January 5, 1990 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Executed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu once had contingency plans to flee to China and direct a guerrilla war from there against anyone who tried to topple him, his former head of intelligence says.

Under a secret ″Plan M,″ the Securitate secret police were to disguise themselves as civilians, retreat to hidden bunkers and wage guerrilla war, Ion Pacepa said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

″My job would have been to take Ceausescu out of Romania,″ Pacepa said in one of the few interviews he has given since he defected in 1978.

″Ceausescu’s refuge at that time was China, where he was to live there as long as need be,″ said Pacepa. He declined to disclose his current address, where he lives under an assumed name.

Ceausescu, the last of the hardline Warsaw Pact bosses to fall from power, kept close ties with officials in other conservative communist countries, such as China and North Korea, as well as with Islamic leaders in Iran.

At the time of his defection, Pacepa was a two-star general and acting head of Romanian external intelligence. In his book, ″Red Horizons,″ he detailed Ceausescu’s efforts to obtain Western technology on behalf of Moscow.

The book also chronicled the extravagant use of power and wealth by Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who were executed after a secret trial on Christmas Day.

Pacepa said he agreed to speak to the AP because his daughter, Dana Damaceanu, her husband and two other relatives were being escorted to safety from Romania by U.S. Rep. Frank A. Wolf, R-Va. His daughter had been under virtual house arrest for a decade and was arrested by the Securitate during the upheaval, he said.

The contingency plan for Ceausescu to survive a rebellion, as described by Pacepa, resembled what was occurring in Romania until the fugitive leader was captured in a secret bunker on Dec. 23.

Officials of the provisional Romanian government said they killed the Ceausescus because they feared the Securitate might rescue them and because they wished to encourage pro-Ceausescu forces to give up. Romanian television repeatedly broadcast footage of the secret trial and the bodies of the executed Ceausescus to prove they were dead.

By the time Pacepa defected, Ceausescu had built miles of secret tunnels linking his downtown palace to other buildings and to two airports on the outskirts of Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

Romanian radio reported during the uprising that the Securitate retreated into a maze of secret tunnels, from which it was launching attacks.

As part of Plan M, said Pacepa, Romanian intelligence established safe houses in West Germany and two neutral countries, Austria and Switzerland, to ″give Ceausescu the means to wage a guerrilla war from abroad.″

The safe houses were occupied by Romanian ″illegals,″ Romanian-born agents who had documents saying they were natives of the countries in which they were living. They used ″burst transmitters″ to broadcast coded messages in brief transmissions that are hard for intelligence agencies to detect, he said.

″There were a dozen radio stations to illegally communicate with the Securitate in Romania and Ceausescu in China,″ he said.

Pacepa cooperated with Western intelligence after he defected and said most of the ″illegals″ had disappeared or were taken into custody.

Ceausescu’s agents tried several times to kill Pacepa after his defection, and they harassed and repeatedly arrested and beat his daughter in Bucharest, he said. The threats and harassment worsened after Radio Free Europe broadcast Pacepa’s book over its Romanian-language service, he said.

The U.S.-funded radio station ″deserves a lot of the credit″ for toppling Ceausescu, said Pacepa. ″In Romania, people were not able to watch West German or Austrian television″ as reformers could in East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. ″The only source of information was Radio Free Europe, and they did a marvelous job.″

The Securitate numbered 10,000 agents when Ceausescu took power in 1965, said Pacepa, and reportedly reached 180,000 by the time of his ouster.

″Because he did not have confidence in the army, he built his own army,″ said Pacepa. In the end, the Romanian army revolted and defeated the Securitate.