RCMP to give update on espionage case against intelligence officer

Canada World

The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is expected to deliver an update today on the extraordinary case against one of her top intelligence officers.

Late last week, Cameron Ortis, 47, was charged under a section of the Security of Information Act that applies to individuals “permanently bound to secrecy” as a condition of their work. The director general of the RCMP’s national intelligence co-ordination centre is accused of preparing to share sensitive information with a foreign entity or terrorist organization.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki will provide a short update on the ongoing investigation and answer reporters’ questions starting at 1 p.m. ET. and CBCNews.ca will stream it live. 

In a written statement issued yesterday, Lucki confirmed that Ortis had access to domestic and foreign intelligence.

She called the allegations “extremely unsettling.”

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki speaks at RCMP Depot in Regina, Sask. (CBC)

Leak could cause ‘devastating’ damage: documents

According to documents viewed by CBC, the cache of classified intelligence material Ortis allegedly was preparing to share is so vital to Canada’s national security that the country’s intelligence agencies say its misuse would strike at the heart of Canada’s security.

“CSE’s preliminary assessment is that damage caused by the release of these reports and intelligence is HIGH and potentially devastating in that it would cause grave injury to Canada’s national interests,” say the documents.

The documents reveal that investigators covertly searched Ortis’s condo last month and found a number of handwritten notes providing instructions on how to share documents without leaving a paper trail.

They also reveal that Ortis was just over $90,000 in debt.

The documents allege the security services first got wind of Ortis through a separate investigation of Phantom Secure Communications, a B.C.-based company under investigation for providing encrypted communication devices to international criminals.

In March of last year, the FBI revealed that it had taken down an international criminal communications service based in Canada that had revenue of $80 million over the last decade.

The documents seen by CBC News say the FBI investigation discovered in 2018 that a person was sending emails to Vincent Ramos, CEO of Phantom Secure Communications, offering to provide valuable information.

The documents allege that person was Ortis.

“You don’t know me. I have information that I am confident you will find very valuable,” one email contained in the documents reads.

A subsequent email promised to provide “intel about your associates and individuals using their network internationally.”

Ortis is expected back in court later this week.

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