General Dumitru Dumbravă, the Secretary General of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), almost completely plagiarized the doctoral dissertation that he defended in 2012 at the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (ANIMV).
When he became a Doctor of Philosophy in Military Sciences and Intelligence, Dumitru Dumbravă already held the title of Colonel and was the Director of the SRI’s Legal Department.
His PhD supervisor was the Brigadier General (r.) and university professor, Doctor Constantin Onișor, former Director of the ANIMV Doctoral School.
The dissertation’s theme has nothing to do with law, which was Dumbravă’s field of specialization, the one he chose to purse his career in. His PhD dissertation was related to cyber security.
The doctoral thesis, entitled “Important Elements Related to Cyber Security” is almost completely plagiarized, with content taken directly from various online sources: from the summary of another dissertation, from a Master’s thesis, a bachelor’s thesis, and even from a speech given by former Minister Relu Fenechiu.
The few sections of the dissertation that were not plagiarized, as well as the attachments, most likely come from internal SRI resources.
General Dumitru Dumbravă drew attention from the press and the public when in an interview given in 2015, he used the expression “tactical field” with reference to the Judicature:
“Concretely speaking, if a few years ago we considered that we had attained our objective when notifying the NAP (the old name of the DNA), for example, if we subsequently withdrew from the tactical field with the notification of the court through an indictment, believing (naively, we could say now) that our mission had been completed, at present we maintain an interest and attribute attention to the case until the definitive solution for each one is reached.”
This statement sparked much controversy and speculation regarding the involvement of the SRI in the final verdicts of the cases that were instrumented by the DNA with the support of the Service.
General Dumbravă was accused of having controlled a network of judges, on whom he imposed certain verdicts in various court proceedings. He was also accused of having built a similar network among journalists, which he supplied with inside information from the cases.
In addition, the public accusations brought against Dumitru Dumbravă were the subject of his hearing in the SRI Parliamentary Control Commission, which in November 2017, requested that he resign from his current position, as the Secretary General of the Romanian Intelligence Service.
In response to this request, SRI issued a statement that the Executive Office of the Board of Directors signed, asking the members of the Commission “not to involve the Service in any political game”.
In the same press release, the SRI announced that “in order to eliminate certain suspicions”, any interinstitutional communication was to be carried out through the Cabinet of the Director, and not through the General Secretariat.
Despite the public scandal, General Dumbravă did not resign and remained active in the SRI.
Dumbravă the Journalist
Little is known about General Dumitru Dumbravă.
According to the juridice.ro website, he was born in 1972, graduated from the Department of Law at the “Al. I. Cuza l” University in Iași in 1996, was admitted to the judiciary and subsequently worked in the SRI.
In 2014, he was promoted to Brigadier General.
The same website also mentions the fact that Dumitru Dumbravă “teaches Ethics in Intelligence courses at the National Intelligence Academy.”
Based on information gathered from several sources, we have been able to confirm some new content about Dumbravă: in the early 1990s, he worked as a journalist at Evenimentul Zilei, before becoming a prosecutor – a position he held for a short period of time.
In the summer of 2016 – when the Service went through a broad process of leadership reform -, Dumbravă was removed from the position of Director of the Legal Department and was appointed Secretary General.
Theoretically, this was a promotion. Blatantly speaking, it is a removal from the action and decision-making area of the Service.
The position of Director of the Legal Department of the SRI involves managing information and issuing legality notices for the disclosure notices that reach the authorities (president, prime minister, ministers, etc.) or the structures that can carry out criminal investigations (prosecutor’s offices or police).
Although the position of Secretary General is the sixth most important position in the SRI hierarchy, (after the Director, First Deputy and the three Deputies), this is a position which has, as its main responsibility, the requirement to oversee the internal and external flows of communication.
General Dumbravă no longer makes operational decisions and is no longer involved in the strategic actions taken by the Service.
The Doctoral Defense Thesis Panel
General Dumitru Dumbravă copied most of his doctoral dissertation from various sources that he had access to on the Internet, without respecting academic citation style guides, as they are recognized nationally and internationally: the use of quotation marks and references made of the original source.
Professors Gheorghe Teodoru Ștefan (President), Țuțu Pișleag, Gelu Alexandrescu and Gheorghe Toma (examiners) were members of the doctoral panel that awarded him the title of Doctor.
Gheorghe Teodoru Stefan was the Rector of ANIMV at the time Dumitru Dumbravă defended his thesis, and his role was strictly ceremonial.
Țuțu Pișleag, a professor at Hyperion University, is currently a PhD supervisor at the Police Academy. He has been part of doctoral defense panel at the ANIMV several times, among them General (r) Florian Coldea’s defense panel.
Three of the theses that Pișleag examined ended up being plagiarized: the one belonging to former Prime Minister Mihai Tudose, the one submitted by former Mayor Neculai Onțanu and the thesis belonging to Judge Florica Diaconescu, for whom the CNATDCU issued a definitive decision to withdraw her title as doctor.
Pișleag also supervised Minister of Education Liviu Marian Pop’s PhD, to whom the Police Academy has recently decided not to award the title of Doctor due to suspicions of plagiarism, as PressOne exclusively reported.
Gelu Alexandrescu is a professor at the National Defense University (UNAP) and the Director of the Institution’s Doctoral School.
Gheorghe Toma was a professor at ANIMV as well as a close friend of former Vice Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea and former Director of the SRI, George Maior.
Toma was the supervisor for Gabriel Oprea’s daughter and son-in-law’s doctoral dissertations, which are suspected of having been plagiarized.
Toma is currently the Secretary General of the Academy of National Security Sciences (ASSN), an institution funded by the state budget, which offers lifelong salaries to several controversial politicians, such as Vasile Dîncu, Dan Mihalache and Sorin Cîmpean, in addition to other members who have no academic background in this particular field.
General Dumitru Dumbravă’s doctoral thesis is made up of 187 pages, without a bibliography and annex.
The dissertation includes one of the most minimal bibliographies ever to have existed in the history of doctoral thesis: only nine foreign authors and eight Romanian authors, to which are added various materials that were published online.
Subchapter 1.1 of the doctoral thesis, entitled “Introductory Notions”, is copied word for word from the article “The Offense of Unlawful Interception of Computer Data Transmission”, written by Maxim Dobrinoiu in 2006 and published on the website of legislation-internet.com.
The first part of page 10 of Dumbravă’s dissertation is taken directly from the book “Criminality in Cyberspace”, written by Ioana Vasiu and Lucian Vasiu, and published in 2011 at the Universal Juridical Publishing House in Bucharest.
Another excerpt belonging to Ioana Vasu and Lucian Vasiu, but this time from Page 6 of their book “Prevention of Cybercriminality” published in 2006 at Hamangiu Publishing House, is used on Page 11 of the doctoral thesis, without the any quotation marks.
General Dumbravă does not plagiarize large excerpts of various texts in the beginning part of his work, but rather chooses to weave paragraphs from several works together.
The first paragraph of Subchapter 1.2 (entitled “Terminology and Content. An Information Society”), is copied word by word from the book “Terrorism. Geopolitical and Geostrategic Dimensions. Terrorist War. The War Against Terrorism ”, published in 2002 at the Ministry of National Defense’s Publishing House, under the supervision of General Gheorghe Văduva.
The paragraphs that follow are plagiarized from the article “Legal Problems of the Information Society”, written by Ioana and Lucian Vasiu and published on the website of the Romanian Academy. The paragraphs are also taken Pages 1 and 2 of the book “Prevention of Cybercrime”, written by the same two authors, published in 2006 at the Hamangiu Publishing House.
Master’s Theses Copied Word for Word in Doctoral Thesis
The content of the 14 pages that follow consists of various paragraphs that have been copied from numerous sources and interwoven together.
A part of the content from Page 13 is copied, without the use of any quotation marks, from the Master’s thesis paper entitled “Elements Regarding Criminal Prosecution in the Case of Cyber Crimes Provided by Law no. 161 of 2003 ”, defended by Bogdan Tulai in April 2007 at the“ Nicolae Titulescu ”University.
Thae next segment is taken from parts of the book “Prevention of Cybercrime”, by Ioana Vasiu and Lucian Vasiu, after which he returns to Bogdan Tulai’s master’s work..
Where it is not copied, the text leaves much to be desired in the former chapter:
• “Spam has evolved, becoming a means of delivering more dangerously harmful applications, such as the spread of viruses, computer worms and Trojans”;
• “One of the most current trends”;
• “Spam is now being used as a vehicle for spreading viruses and spyware.”
The content that makes up the section “Malicious events in the public space”, beginning with the last paragraph on Page 19 and the following pages, up to Page 25 – is copied from another online resource.
This online resource is an “Introductory Guide to the Application of the Legal Provisions Regarding Cybercrime”, published in 2004. It was developed as part of the RITI project, in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
While trying to figure out the original source of these pages, I also discovered (in books or scientific articles) the same content as on Pages 19–25 of Dumitru Dumbravă’s thesis. And so it appears that other books and articles have used the above-mentioned Guide and have copied content directly from it. The Guide was published in 2004.
The works that copied straight from the Guide include:
The study “Dimensions of Criminality in the Virtual Space”, written by Ciprian Pânzaru, from the Western University of Timisoara, and published in the 5th Edition of the Journal of Social Informatics, in June 2006.
The university course entitled “Legal Informatics”, authored by prof. Dr. Valentin-Corneliu Pau and Assistant Professor Eng. Octavian Stanescu, appearing at the “Titu Maiorescu” University in 2011.
The book “Crimes in the Computer Field”, written by Maxim Dobrinoiu, and published in 2006.
Going back to General Dumitru Dumbravă’s doctoral dissertation, what is particularly curious is the fact that although he defended it in 2012, and since then, the theme has constantly changed, the articles or books from which he plagiarized are 10 years old or older.
Page 40 of the PhD thesis is copied from the article “Transnational Space and the ‘Network Society’, which was written by Christian Fuchs and published in English, in the 21st Century Society, vol. 2, no. 1, February 2007.
A deviation, which was a hint that attracted my attention to Page 40, is the fact that for the first time, Dumbravă does not quotation marks and footnotes, but rather, uses the APA citation system.
As a result, I was able to find out that the content on the page is the English to Romanian translation of various paragraphs from Fuchs’s study. Dumbravă used the entirety of the text without employing quotation marks. He translated the text and put it directly into his work, therefore the citation system used by the original author remained the same.
Although a footnote at the bottom of the page makes reference to Fuch’s article, from which the text is copied, the lack of quotation marks around copied text automatically places this text in the plagiarized category.
The content on Pages 41-54 is entirely copied from the summary of another doctoral thesis, entitled “Cyber Terrorism.” It was written and defended by PhD candidate Gigi Giurcan in 2010 l, within the Sociology and Social Work Department of the University of Bucharest, under Pavel Abraham’s supervision.
The only difference between the two works is that Dumbravă does not copy Giurcan’s bibliographical references in his thesis, but only copies thehe content.
On Page 56 of Dumbravă’s thesis, a footnote from Giurcan’s dissertation is directly inserted into the content of the paper.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Gigi Giurcan was employed by Intelligence and Internal Protection Service (SIPI) in Calarasi, which is the regional office of the Internal Intelligence and Protection Directorate (DIPI) of the Ministry of Interior. This was between 1998 and 2016. During the period between 2010-2016, Giurcan was the head of the regional office.
Beginning on Page 58 and all the way to Page 62, Dumitru Dumbrava plagiarizes from an undergraduate thesis entitled “WEB Search Engine”, which can be accessed on the Internet and was presented by a student from the Department of Mathematics.
The text from page 62 to page 66 of Dumbravă’s thesis is also copied from the summary of Gigi Giurcan’ doctoral thesis “Cyber Terrorism”, which he defended in the Department of Sociology of the University of Bucharest.
Subchapter 2.2, entitled “The Main Actors”, is dedicated to hackers who operate worldwide, but also in Romania, such as “Lulzsec” or “Anonymous”, as well as to special operations such as “Snow melt”.
Based on the way they are described, the information provided is most likely from internal SRI reports, especially as some terms used, such as “hacktivism”, have recently entered the public debate and in the field of scientific research. .
And the content of Page 97 of Dumitru Dumbravă’s thesis originates, most probably, from internal documents belonging the SRI, considering that, at one point, reference is made to “CSS Analysis no. 34 ”, but this analysis is not in the annexes of the paper and there is no revelation as to what it would contain from previous or subsequent references.
On Page 102, the sub-chapter “Cyber War Between the US and China” is taken from the article “We Are Living in the Cyber War Era”, originally published by Discover Magazine on June 21, 2011, reprinted on May 16, 2012 and written by Marius Comper, who was the editor-in-chief of the magazine at the time.
“I am disappointed to find out about this plagiarism incident, especially as it stems from an individual who has taken a military oath and who made a commitment to respect values such as patriotism, honor and professionalism.
The severity that will be displayed as a result of violation of these values, which are proclaimed by the SRI, is a reflection of their authenticity, a test they will have to take, before the Romanian citizens ”, said Marius Comper, currently Senior Editorial Associate at the newsnow.co.uk portal, based in London.
“Cyber War Case Study: Estonia, 2007”, which is found on Pages 104–113 of Dumitru Dumbravă’s thesis, is a direct translation of a research study that was authored by Muhammad Saleem and Jawad Hassan, entitled “Cyber Warfare”, The Truth in a Real Case” and presented at a conference that took place at Linköping University in Sweden.
Lther sections of Dumitru Dumbravă’s doctoral thesis seem to be the SRai’s internal analysis regarding the activity of hackers in the online environment.
This also seems to be the case for Subchapter 3.3, entitled “Cyber Warfare Panoply” (Pages 114-122), which discusses cyber attacks on internet networks belonging to strategic institutions in Estonia, a NATO member country, or even Georgia. Those responsible for the attacks have been identified among Russian hackers.
Even though in Chapter 4’s introductory section, beginning on Page 125, General Dumbravă states that this subchapter will present “the results of research regarding the European concerns for some important states on the virtual scene – from NATO’s perspective “, in reality, the content refers to the technical security of commercial companies.
From Page 126 to Page 128, the content of Dumitru Dumbravă’s dissertation is copied from a course on “Systems Security”, published on the studentie.ro website.
The interweaving of different paragraphs from various sources continues on Pages 129-131, where you can find content from other reports available on the Internet.
The sub-chapter entitled “Security Policies in Accordance with Legal Regulations” (Page 131) is directly copied – title and all – from the study “What do Security Policies Mean”. There is no use of quotation marks or bibliographic references. This study refers to the security of the company’s technical systems.
And the next subchapter (Pages 133–134), entitled “Creating Security Policies”, is also copied – title and all – from the same report.
Pages 148 to 150 are plagiarized, including the same footnote, from the article “Analysis of the Discourse on Cyber-War and Cyber-Power”, published on the Internet on February 4, 2011.
Numerous paragraphs on Page 165 are copied from an information document issued by former Deputy Relu Fenechiu, who has been convicted of corruption in the meantime. He provided this document after he participated in the Third Edition of the Parliamentary Forum on the Information Society in Geneva, between May 3-5, 2010.
The document, which was posted on the former minister’s personal website, fenechiu.ro, is not available at this time.
The legal implications of plagiarism
General Dumitru Dumbravă, as well as his doctoral supervisor, Constantin Onișor, are at risk of being accused of falsifying public documents, since they pledged that the thesis was original, in accordance with the Law of National Education and the Code of Doctoral Studies. This was done through a joint declaration that they both signed and made a self-deception before the thesis defense panel, thereby becoming legally liable.
After the adoption of the Education Law, in 2011, the doctoral candidate as well as the supervisor became obliged to sign a “declaration of responsibility regarding the originality of the doctoral thesis: content and respect for the standards of quality and professional ethics”.
Any declaration of responsibility must contain the following forms:
“Taking into account the content of Art. 143 para. (4) and Art. 170 of the National Education Law no. 1/2011, with the subsequent modifications and completions, and of Art. 65 paragraph (5) – (7) of the Code of doctoral studies, approved by H.G. 681/2011, I solemnly declare of own responsibility regarding the following:
a) this work is the result of my own activities and achievements;
b) does not contain plagiarized portions, and the bibliographic sources are indicated in the thesis. The segments taken from these sources are referenced, in accordance with Romanian legislation and the international conventions on copyright;
c) the doctoral thesis respects the standards of quality and professional ethics ”(a declaration model can be accessed here).
According to Article 143, Paragraph (4) of the Education Law, “supervisors of the Bachelor’s thesis, diploma, Master’s dissertation and doctoral thesis are jointly responsible, together with the authors of the work, for ensuring the originality of the content”.
The Doctoral Studies Code, approved by H.G. 681/2011, provides the following in Article 65, paragraphs 5 to 7:
“(5) The doctoral thesis is an original work, and the obligation to reference any content that comes from another source is fulfilled.
(6) The doctoral student is the author of the doctoral thesis and assumes the correctness of the data and information presented in the thesis, as well as the opinions and explanations provided in the thesis.
(7) The doctoral supervisor is responsible for, together with the author of the thesis, the observance of quality standards and professional ethics, including ensuring the originality of the content, according to the provisions of Art. 170 of Law no. 1/2011 “.
Article 170 stipulates the possible sanctions that can be applied in the case of plagiarized theses:
“(1) In case of non-compliance with the standards of quality and professional ethics, the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport – on the basis of external evaluation reports – may take the following measures, alternatively or simultaneously:
a) withdrawal of the title of doctoral supervisor;
b) withdrawal of the title of doctor;
c) withdrawal of the accreditation of the doctoral school, which implies the withdrawal of the right of the doctoral school to organize an admissions competition for the selection of new doctoral students .