A high-ranking civilian intelligence official with Canada’s national police force accused of preparing to leak highly sensitive information has been ordered back to jail barely three weeks after he was granted bail with strict conditions.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has charged Cameron Ortis, 47, under the rarely used Security of Information Act.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse said Ortis will be returned to custody following a review requested by the Crown.
The court heard the Crown’s application for a bail review last week. The Crown’s reasons for seeking the review are covered by a publication ban.
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.
Under the terms outlined by Justice of the Peace Serge Legault of the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa on Oct. 22, Ortis was ordered to live with his parents in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and to report to the police once a week and was forbidden from using any device that connects to the Internet.
Evidence at the bail hearing and reasons for the decision by the court are also subject to a publication ban, which is not unusual in the Canadian justice system.
Access to top secret documents
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.
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.
No trial date has been set.
With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press