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Judge likely to hear clashing arguments on sentence for ex-RCMP intel official Ortis

January 11, 2024  By The Canadian Press


Jan. 10, 2024, Ottawa, Ont. – A judge is expected to hear sharply differing arguments this week about the punishment he should hand to former RCMP intelligence official Cameron Jay Ortis.

In November, jurors declared Ortis guilty of three counts of violating the Security of Information Act and one count of attempting to do so.

They also found him guilty of breach of trust and fraudulent use of a computer.

A hearing scheduled for today and Friday will help Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger decide on a sentence for Ortis.

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Following the jury’s verdict, prosecutor Judy Kliewer suggested the Crown would seek a prison sentence in the range of 20 or more years.

Mark Ertel, a lawyer for Ortis, said the defence would argue their client had already served enough time behind bars as the proceedings played out.

Ortis was released briefly on bail following his arrest in late 2019, only to be returned to an Ottawa jail for more than three years. He was again granted bail in December 2022 as he awaited a trial that took place last fall.

Speaking to reporters in November, Ertel expressed disappointment that Maranger revoked Ortis’s bail following the convictions.

He also said there would be an appeal of the jury’s decision.

“I think an innocent man has just been found guilty of six serious offences,” Ertel said. “I’m really at a loss for words, I can’t believe what happened.”

Ortis, 51, led the RCMP’s Operations Research group, which assembled and developed classified information on cybercriminals, terror cells and transnational criminal networks.

He pleaded not guilty in court to all charges, including breaking the secrets law by revealing classified information to three individuals of interest to police in 2015 and trying to do so in a fourth instance.

Ortis testified he did not betray the RCMP. Rather, he offered secret material to targets in a bid to get them to use an online encryption service set up by an allied intelligence agency to spy on adversaries.

The Crown argued Ortis had no authority to disclose classified material and that he was not doing so as part of a legitimate undercover operation.

Although Ortis asked one target for thousands of dollars before he would send full versions of sensitive documents, there was no evidence he received money from individuals he contacted.

The prosecution dismissed Ortis’s story as fiction and portrayed him as reckless — flouting rules and protocols, sabotaging national security and even endangering the life of a genuine undercover officer.

Maranger is expected to hear submissions from the Crown and Defence over two days. The judge might then take days or even weeks before handing down a sentence.

He may take close note of the February 2013 sentence in another Security of Information Act case.

Jeffrey Paul Delisle, a troubled junior naval officer, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to passing classified western intelligence to Russia in exchange for cash on a regular basis for over four years.

Delisle, the first person to be charged under the Security of Information Act, was fined $111,817, the amount he received from the Russians.

He was also sentenced to nine years for attempting to communicate safeguarded information under the secrets law and five years for breach of trust. All three prison sentences were to be served concurrently.

Delisle was granted full parole in 2019.


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