Canadian Is Sentenced to 14 Years for Passing Along State Secrets

Canadian Is Sentenced to 14 Years for Passing Along State Secrets

A former civilian director of an elite intelligence unit in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday after his conviction last year of giving confidential operational information to four men who were targets of police investigations.

The sentence is half of what prosecutors had sought for the intelligence official, Cameron Ortis, whose motive, they acknowledged, remains unknown and who, they agreed, had been highly respected as the director general of the national intelligence coordination unit in Canada’s national police force.

Mr. Ortis will get credit for the six and a half years he had spent in jail while awaiting trial and following his conviction in November.

The case was the first time that charges under Canada’s 1985 Security of Information Act had been brought to trial. The act’s provisions meant that Mr. Ortis was “permanently bound to secrecy,” therefore his testimony was conducted in secret with only censored transcripts made public. Other evidence has been kept secret.

Mr. Ortis repeatedly declared his innocence and testified that his actions had been part of a top-secret, international mission he had embarked on during a leave of absence in 2015 — to study French — and that the mission had been brought to him by someone at “a foreign agency.”

He testified that binding promises he had made in taking on the operation prevented him from naming that person, identifying where he or she worked or telling the court what threat to Canada had prompted him to take on the task.

His agreement with the person, Mr. Ortis said, even barred him from telling anyone else at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about the operation because his foreign counterpart told him there were “moles” in the force who would sidetrack or otherwise block the project.

Mr. Ortis, who holds a doctorate in cybercrime studies, was convicted of passing along secrets to Victor Ramos, a Canadian who once owned a company that sold special mobile phones to criminals that it claimed were impervious to all forms of surveillance. Mr. Ramos was arrested in Washington State in 2018 and later sentenced to nine years in prison for racketeering and conspiracy.

Prosecutors said the secrets included intelligence from the Five Eyes Network, an intelligence-sharing arrangement among Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

A jury also convicted Mr. Ortis of sharing secrets with two men involved in money laundering, attempting to give secrets to a fourth man, breach of trust and unauthorized use of a computer.

While the court was presented with an email that Mr. Ortis had sent under a pseudonym to Mr. Ramos in which he offered to sell more information for 20,000 Canadian dollars (about $14,800), prosecutors said that there was no evidence the former intelligence official had received any money or benefited from his operation.

During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Justice Robert Maranger of the Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa noted the lack of motive in the case, Mr. Ortis’s previously exemplary record in the police force and his refusal to provide key information.

“Cameron Ortis is somewhat of an enigma,” the judge said. “The ‘why’ here, in my mind, remains a mystery.”

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Kyle C. Garrison

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