Alleged RCMP secret leaker Cameron Ortis granted bail

OTTAWA — Cameron Jay Ortis, a senior RCMP official accused of breaching Canada's official-secrets law, has been granted release on bail with strict conditions.

Under the terms outlined Tuesday, Ortis will live with his parents in Abbotsford, B.C., must report to the RCMP once a week and is forbidden from using any device that connects to the internet.

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Ortis, 47, is charged with violating the Security of Information Act and breach of trust for allegedly disclosing secrets to an unknown recipient and planning to reveal additional classified information to an unspecified foreign entity.

He faces a total of seven counts under various provisions, with the alleged offences dating from as early as Jan. 1, 2015 through to Sept. 12 of this year.

Unlike the case for many criminal offences, Ortis had the burden of demonstrating why he should be freed on bail while he awaits trial on the secrets-law charges.

Evidence at the bail hearing and reasons for the decision are subject to a publication ban.

No trial date has been set.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has said the allegations against Ortis are extremely unsettling, noting that as director general of the force's National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre, he had access to information from domestic and international allies.

Lucki told a news conference last month that investigators came across documents during a joint investigation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation that led the Mounties to believe there could be some kind of "internal corruption."

The commissioner said Ortis had a valid Top Secret clearance — which must be renewed every five years — but he had not undergone a polygraph exam, a test which measures physiological signs such as heart rate and breathing that might indicate deception.

It turns out the RCMP does not use the polygraph for security clearances, even though a 2014 federal standard requires a lie-detector test for the highest security category, known as enhanced Top Secret.

The Security of Information Act, passed following the 9/11 attacks on 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 offences under the act in 2012.

The law forbids the discussion or release of "special operational information," including past and current confidential sources, targets of intelligence operations, names of spies, military attack plans, and encryption or other means of protecting data.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2019.

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