Romanian Judge Focused on Reform of Country's Judicial System Suspended for TikTok Posts

A judge in Romania who has advocated for reforms of the country's judicial system has been suspended for TikTok posts, some of which included videos of him doing yard work or cleaning his pool.

Cristi Danilet told the Associated Press he believes the suspension over the social media posts is retaliation for his years of support for legal reforms in the country.

"I think it's a kind of payback," Danilet told the AP. "For many years I've been involved in the reform of (Romania's) judiciary...I've got a lot of enemies for this kind of attitude. In Romania, it's very difficult to make reforms of the judiciary, but also reforms of mentalities."

The Superior Council of Magistrates announced the suspension Monday, saying the two videos of Danilet trimming a hedge and cleaning a pool combined to represent "behavior that affects the image of the justice system."

Danilet said the videos in question were posted last year, and neither should have anything to do with his profession.

The U.S. Embassy in Bucharest said in a statement that it is "deeply concerned" about the suspension and what it could mean for the future of the legal system in the country.

"An independent justice that respects the rule of law is essential for any prosperous democracy," the statement said.

The statement also included a quote from President Joe Biden at the recent Summit for Democracy, that "democracy does not happen by accident."

Danilet has been critical of his country's judiciary for years and has frequently called for reforms, even organizing protests against officials who opposed the reforms.

TikTok, Romanian Judge Suspended, Judicial Reforms
A judge in Romania was suspended Monday over posts on TikTok of himself trimming a hedge and cleaning his home's pool, a suspension he called retaliation for his years of advocating for judicial reforms in the country. The logo of the social network application TikTok is seen above on a phone screen on May 27, 2020. Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

Danilet is a judge in Romania's northern city of Cluj. The suspension can be appealed.

Danilet, who has amassed a large social media following, also runs legal education courses for children.

Dacian Ciolos, who previously served as prime minister between 2015 and 2017 in a caretaker Cabinet, condemned the suspension and accused the recently sworn-in coalition government of beginning the "destruction of justice."

"(The suspension) looks bad no matter how we look at things," Ciolos said. "Even if this decision is overturned by the High Court, the signal has been given. Judges need to be very careful."

Ciolos added that in recent months he has "received information" that several judges and prosecutors "feel intimidated and are in different stages of disciplinary action."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.