Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted to exchanging “very personal” emails with Romanian politician Corina Cretu but denies having an affair with the much younger woman after a hacker threatened to release their intimate messages.
Colin Powell, 76, now a retired general told the Smoking Gun that he met Corina Cretu, 46, roughly 10 years ago when she was working as an assistant to Romania’s President Ion Iliescu. She is now a member of the European Parliament.
“After I left the Department of State in January 2005 we stayed in touch via email,” Colin Powell told TSG.
“Over time the emails became of a very personal nature, but did not result in an affair. Those type of emails ended a few years ago. There was no affair then and there is not one now.”
In response to questions about multiple photos included in some of the emails, Colin Powell said: “She sent photos on a regular basis. Lots of family photos with her nieces, who she adores, family reunions, formal business sessions, her wedding and some bathing suit photos … Never anything improper.”
Colin Powell has been married for 50 years to his wife, Alma, and Corina Cretu was married last year.
He was forced to address his relationship with Corina Cretu on Thursday after the notorious hacker “Guccifer” posted a link to a Google document on Colin Powell’s Facebook wall that contained some of the emails. The post was promptly removed from his wall.
In the emails, “Cretu calls [Colin Powell] the love of her life and describes a relationship that spanned more than a decade,” according to TSG.
“The 2010-2011 e-mails would leave most readers with the clear impression that the forlorn Cretu is writing about the twilight of a romance.”
Colin Powell spokeswoman Peggy Cifrino confirmed The Smoking Gun’s report.
“Yes, the article accurately reflects the situation and that is General Powell’s statement,” Peggy Cifrino said in an email to Politico.
Months ago, Guccifer successfully accessed email accounts belonging to Colin Powell and a number of other high-ranking officials, including former President George W. Bush and his family.
The emails between Colin Powell and Corina Cretu were not released at the time.
Colin Powell said he asked Corina Cretu earlier this week – after the link to the emails was posted – to delete all the messages between them. That email was also accessed by the hacker and posted online.
He explained to the Smoking Gun: “In light of what was happening it seems obvious to ask Ms. Cretu to delete emails.”
Colin Powell said the two “remain friends and are in touch”, but have only seen each other “once or twice” over the past eight years at “group conferences” in Washington, D.C.
“I am pleased that she is having a successful career,” Colin Powell said.
“I am pleased that she is recently and happily married.”
Corina Cretu was elected to the European Parliament in 2009. She is the vice-chair of Parliament’s Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which traveled to Washington in July 2011 for a conference.
She posted a blog about the conference and included a photo of herself and Colin Powell.
“Commander of U.S. troops in the first Gulf War and Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, General Colin Powell is one of the most avid observers of global developments and also an old and good friend of Romania,” Corina Cretu wrote, according to an English translation of her blog, which was written in Romanian.
“I had, along with colleagues from Socialist MEP delegation, a very interesting discussion, focusing particularly on transatlantic cooperation in the current geopolitical framework.”