A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa, May 14, 2013.

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa, May 14, 2013.
Photo Credit: PC / Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Canada’s spy agency warns of Russian and Chinese snooping

While Canada grapples with the threat of home-grown jihadists, Russia and China are actively working to steal the country’s most prized secrets, Canada’s spy agency warns an internal memo obtained by The Canadian Press

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the country’s domestic spy agency, which rarely identifies security threats by name, made the frank statement in briefing notes prepared for service director Michel Coulombe.

“Russia and China, in particular, continue to target Canada’s classified information and advanced technology, as well as government officials and systems,” said the briefing notes obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information law.

The briefing notes were intended for use by Coulombe at a March meeting of the Senate committee on national security and defence.

“Canada remains a target for the traditional espionage activities of a number of foreign states, which continue to gather political, economic, and military information in Canada through clandestine means,” CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti told The Canadian Press.

“States and other entities abroad have interests — political, economic and territorial — and will pursue those interests by a variety of means. Some will do so through espionage and interference, targeting the Canadian economy, strategic interests and assets, societal institutions and members of the diaspora.”

For years security experts have warned that old-fashioned spying has continued to thrive in the post-Cold War era despite the fact much of the public attention has been focused on the threat posed by home-grown jihadi groups and individuals.

Three years ago, junior Canadian navy officer Jeffrey Delisle was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to passing classified western intelligence to Russia in exchange for cash on a regular basis for more than four years.

Russian officials in turn say Western spying in Russia has reached unprecedented levels since the end of Cold War.

Based on reporting by Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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