Nina Cassian, 89, a Romanian poet and translator who obtained asylum in the United States after the Communist-era secret police found her critical poems scribbled in a friend's diary, has died in New York City.

Her husband, Maurice Edwards, said she died at home Monday from a heart attack.

The Securitate found her poems in 1985 in the diary of Gheorghe Ursu, who was questioned and later died after being beaten by a fellow prisoner. Ms. Cassian, then visiting the United States, was granted asylum.

She married Edwards, an author who was then Brooklyn Philharmonic orchestra's artistic director, in New York when they were both in their 70s.

Born into a Jewish family in the port of Galati in 1924, Ms. Cassian joined the Communist Youth Wing when it was outlawed by the pro-Nazi government. She said she was attracted by the ideas of equality and lack of racial prejudice.

She also wrote children's books and translated Shakespeare, Moliere, and Brecht. Her work was published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and other publications. - AP