The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police force said yesterday the national police force has been "shaken" by the arrest of one of its senior intelligence officers and said he had access to information from Canada's allies, including New Zealand.
Authorities arrested Cameron Jay Ortis last week and alleged he tried to disclose classified information to a foreign entity they didn't specify. Ortis had served in a civilian role as director general of the RCMP's National Intelligence Coordination Centre.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said in a statement yesterday the Mounties are assessing and trying to mitigate the possible damage. Lucki said Ortis worked for the RCMP since 2007 and given his senior position he had access to intelligence coming from Canada's allies both domestically and internationally.
"We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration," Lucki said.
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The 47-year-old was charged under three sections of the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions, including breach of trust.
According to the New York Times, Ortis would have been able to use a system called the Canadian Top Secret Network. The network links more 20 Candian departments and agencies involved in intelligence gathering. That intelligence includes that gathered in a joint effort known as 'Five Eyes', which involves New Zealand, the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.
Lucki said the charges "have shaken many people throughout the RCMP, particularly in Federal Policing."
She added she was limited in what she can say because the matter is before the courts.
Ortis earned a doctorate in political science from the University of British Columbia, completing a dissertation on the international dimensions of internet security.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Ortis earned a doctorate in international relations at the University of British Columbia in 2006 and speaks Mandarin Chinese. His doctoral thesis was Bowing to Quirinus: Compromised Nodes and Cyber Security in East Asia.
The Security of Information Act, ushered in following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, is intended to safeguard sensitive government secrets. Charges have been rare but Jeffrey Paul Delisle, a naval officer who gave classified material to Russia, pleaded guilty to offenses under the act in 2012. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.