Reeling from the arrest of one of its high-ranking intelligence employees, Canada’s national police force is assessing possible damage the alleged mole may have caused to Canada and its allies, the head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said Monday.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said charges against Cameron Ortis for alleged offences under the Criminal Code and the rarely used Security of Information Act have shaken many people throughout the federal police force, which also deals with highly sensitive national security investigations.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we are assessing the impacts of the alleged activities as information becomes available,” Lucki said in a statement. “We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration. We assure you that mitigation strategies are being put in place as required.”
Ortis, 47, a civilian director general of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Coordination Centre, was arrested on Thursday, Sept. 12, Lucki said.
An expert on cybersecurity and East Asia, Ortis had been with the RCMP since 2007 and has held positions in Operations Research and National Security Criminal Investigations, Lucki said.
“By virtue of the positions he held, Mr. Ortis had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed,” Lucki said in a statement. “He also had access to intelligence coming from our allies both domestically and internationally.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is taking the situation “very seriously.”
“I think people will understand I can’t make any public comments on this, but I can assure you this is something that the responsible authorities are engaged with at the highest levels, including with our allies,” Trudeau told reporters during a campaign stop in Waterloo, Ontario, when asked how this case might affect Canada’s international relationships.
Ortis faces five charges, RCMP said:
- Section 14(1) of the Security of Information Act (communicating or confirming special operational information)
- Section 22(1)(b) of the Security of Information Act (obtaining, retaining or gaining access to any information)
- Section 22(1)(e) of the Security of Information Act (possessing any device, apparatus or software useful for concealing the content of information or for surreptitiously communicating, obtaining or retaining information)
- Section 122 of the Criminal Code (breach of trust by public officer)
- Section 342.1(1) of the Criminal Code (unauthorized use of computer)
He appeared briefly Friday afternoon in an Ottawa courtroom via video link. His case was put over to Sept. 20 and he remains in custody.