A Canadian court will begin hearing arguments from prosecution and defence lawyers today over whether a senior intelligence official with Canada’s national police force accused of preparing to leak sensitive information should be released on bail.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has charged Cameron Ortis, 47, under the rarely used Security of Information Act.
Ortis, a civilian director general of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Coordination Centre, was arrested on Sept. 12 and charged with preparing to share sensitive information with a foreign entity or terrorist organization. He’s also charged with sharing operational information back in 2015.
By virtue of his position, Ortis had access to highly sensitive information gathered by the RCMP and shared with the federal police force by its domestic and foreign partners, RCMP officials have admitted.
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 be “potentially devastating” for Canada’s security.
Because there’s so much information to review in the case, the defence and Crown agreed to a two-day bail hearing.
Ortis’s lawyer Ian Carter said he’ll be seeking a full release.
According to reports by Catharine Tunney of CBC News, Canada’s security services first got wind of Ortis’s alleged activity through a separate probe of Phantom Secure Communications, a B.C.-based company under investigation for allegedly providing encrypted communication devices to international criminals.
The FBI discovered in 2018 that a person was sending emails to company CEO Vincent Ramos offering to provide valuable information; Canadian authorities believe that person was Ortis.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has called the allegations “extremely unsettling” and says RCMP officials are working with Canadian and international partners to assess and mitigate the possible damage.
With files from CBC News