CANADIAN NAVAL OFFICER FIRST TO BE CHARGED UNDER SECURITY OF INFORMATION ACT AND ENSUING REPORTS CLAIM TIES TO RUSSIA

Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Paul Delisle, an intelligence officer in the Canadian Navy, holds the dubious distinction of being the initial espionage suspect charged under that country’s Security of Information Act, following his arrest by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during the weekend of January 14th. The aforementioned legislation was enacted in 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and expanded the classification of secret information to include all data the government determined should be kept out of foreign hands. Delisle was taken into custody on suspicion of leaking information that could advance foreign interests at the expense of Canada’s. The nature of information supposedly turned over was not revealed, nor was the purported foreign recipient identified. An ongoing investigation will ascertain if national security was compromised. The first charge filed against Delisle was a single count of breach of trust covered by a section of the Criminal Code dealing with public officials, with a maximum penalty of a five year prison term. When he appeared in court last week for a scheduled bail hearing, he stood accused of two additional charges, those of passing on protected information and endeavoring to pass on protected information. A conviction could bring a life sentence. Bail proceedings were postponed until the 25th of this month.
Delisle’s arrest set the stage for what has been described as the most prominent spy affair in Canada for more than fifty years. Reports have surfaced that the undisclosed foreign entity to which he allegedly supplied information was Russia, beginning in July 2007 and continuing until the time of his arrest. During that timespan, Delisle’s postings to Ottawa, Kingston and lastly, Halifax, afforded him access to sensitive data. Russian officials have refuted the CTV News account that four of its embassy personnel were expelled by the Canadian government on the heels of the Delisle scandal, claiming instead that they departed Canada last year in accordance with usual procedure. Although there has been no Canadian confirmation of said expulsions, nevertheless, the current situation undoubtedly could worsen the existing strained relations between Canada and Russia relative to a number of issues, among which are Arctic sovereignty, human rights, and Russian transactions with Tehran.


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