Dumitru Tinu, 62, a prominent Romanian journalist who covered the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and guided his newspaper along a liberal path after the fall of communism in his nation, died Wednesday in a car accident, the paper's foreign editor said.
Tinu died after apparently losing control of his car in the village of Romanesti, about 30 miles north of Bucharest.
He became director of the newspaper Adevarul in 1993, guiding it along independent lines that often included criticism of the government. He also publicly defended freedom of the press and headed the Romanian Press Club, the country's main organization for newspaper directors.
"He was more than a journalist. He was a real former of public opinion," President Ion Iliescu told the private radio station Europa FM.
Press freedom remains imperiled in Romania, where communism ended in 1989. Authorities and public figures are largely intolerant of criticism from the press, and journalists found guilty of libel can be imprisoned.
During the communist years, Tinu was a correspondent and later foreign editor for the Communist Party newspaper Scanteia, covering the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and, in the 1980s, Poland's Solidarity movement. Romania was one of the few Warsaw Pact countries to condemn the invasion.