An intelligence officer with the Canadian military has been arrested for allegedly sharing classified information with Russia, CTV News has learned.
Jeffrey Paul Delisle, 40, was in courtroom in Halifax on Monday facing two charges that fall under the Security of Information Act.
It’s alleged that Delisle had been illegally passing on secret information to a foreign entity since July of 2007.
Sources told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that the foreign entity in question is Russia, and that Delisle was allegedly caught in the act last week.
The arrest and the allegations lend some credence to recent reports that Canada is increasingly becoming a target of espionage.
“Sources say that Russian espionage in this country is as extensive and aggressive as it was during the Cold War,” Fife reported.
While the exact nature of the documents in question remains a closely-guarded secret among security officials, sources said that the information could deal with ship movements and data about Canada’s allies, Fife said.
None of the allegations against Delisle have been proven in court.
He was an intelligence officer and a navy sub-lieutenant, the Defence Department said. He had been working out of CFB Stadacona’s Trinity section, which is a naval communications and intelligence operational centre in Halifax. It’s believed that the base is a multi-national one, meaning officers have access to secret data from other NATO countries.
The military is conducting a probe to find out the extent of the leaks.
“Notwithstanding the seriousness of these charges, the RCMP is not aware of any threat to public safety at this time from this situation,” RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told The Canadian Press.
“This investigation demonstrates that Canada is not immune to threats posed by foreign entities wishing to undermine Canadian sovereignty.
“We must be ever vigilant to the real threat of foreign espionage, and continue investing time and resources into the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of such acts.”
Sources told CTV News that due to the sensitivity of the case, legal proceedings could be subject to a sweeping publication ban. It’s also believed that a plea deal could be offered, meaning that none of the particulars of the case would be replayed in open court.
A breach of trust charge has also been filed, and that the alleged offences occurred in or near Halifax, Ottawa and Kingston, Ont.
According to the Security of Information Act, anyone convicted of the Act’s most serious offences can be subject to life in prison.
Delisle came to the navy as reservist in 1996 and became a member in 2001. He was promoted to the rank of office in 2008.
Delisle will remains in police custody and will appear in court on Tuesday.
CSIS Director Richard Fadden noted in lengthy 2010 memo that Canada should be concerned about foreign interference.
“Canada is a target for foreign interference due to our natural resources, scientific and technological sectors, our role and influence in the international community, and our close relations with powerful allies,” said the memo, which was written to the Public Safety ministry.