RCMP intelligence official charged under national secrets act
TORONTO – The director general of the RCMP’s intelligence unit at the force’s headquarters in Ottawa has been arrested and charged under the Security of Information Act.
In an emailed statement to CTV News, an RCMP spokesperson said that Cameron Ortis was charged under three parts of the Security of Information Act and two parts of the Criminal Code of Canada. The Security of Information Act is a national security law that addresses security concerns, including threats of espionage by foreign powers.
“The charges stem from activities alleged to have occurred during his tenure as an RCMP employee,” the statement says, adding that as the investigation is ongoing, the RCMP will not be making further comments at this time.
The 47 year old does not yet have a lawyer representing him, but appeared via video link in an Ottawa courthouse Friday afternoon.
“In broad strokes, the allegations are that he obtained, stored, processed sensitive information, we believe with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn’t be communicating it to,” said prosecutor John MacFarlane after the court hearing.
A total of seven counts against Ortis are listed on the charge sheet, according to The Canadian Press. Two of the seven counts date back to January 2015 through to his arrest on Thursday.
CTV News has also learned that Ortis was a close advisor of former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, who retired from the force in 2017 to focus on his family.
WHAT THE CHARGES MEAN
CTV News legal analyst Ed Prutschi said the charges levied against Ortis are anti-spy related.
“[Ortis] is a civilian cyber security guy in the RCMP and the combination of charges implies he’s accused of either hacking or just plain out stealing sensitive info through digital networks presumably and passing it along,” Prutschi said.
Stephanie Carvin, a former national security analyst, told CTV News Channel that the charges are very serious.
“It suggests this person may have tried or succeeded in communicating details about the way the RCMP may have been trying to go about a criminal investigation,” she said.
“This person had access to a lot of information,” Carvin added.
A spokesperson for the office of the Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said in a statement emailed to CTV News that “Canadians can continue to have confidence in their security and intelligence agencies to protect our safety and rights,” and that all questions should be directed to the RCMP.
REACTION FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided a brief comment on the case while on the campaign trail on Friday.
“I was of course made aware of the arrest,” Trudeau said to reporters. “I can assure you the authorities are taking this extremely seriously.”
In a post on Twitter, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said “this is another reminder of the threats we face from foreign actors.” Adding that as prime minister, he would “not hesitate to identify these threats and act accordingly.”
Ortis will remain in custody until his next court date on Sept. 20.
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