Defence lawyer awaiting information from Crown in RCMP secrets case

OTTAWA — A lawyer for an RCMP employee charged with breaching the official-secrets law says he is awaiting details of the allegations from the Crown.

Defence lawyer Ian Carter told an Ontario court judge Friday he has an “initial synopsis” of the case against Cameron Jay Ortis.

Carter says once he has fuller disclosure in the matter, he will review the material and be in a position to set a bail hearing.

Ortis, 47, is accused of violating three sections of the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions, including breach of trust, for allegedly trying to disclose classified information to an unspecified foreign entity or terrorist group.

Ortis, wearing glasses and an orange prison jump-suit, appeared briefly during the hearing Friday via a video link.

“Yes, your honour, I understand,” he said as the brief proceeding concluded.

Heading into court, Carter said he and his co-counsel had asked the Crown for “full disclosure in the matter.”

“We have not received it yet. We expect to receive some of that disclosure early next week.”

Ortis is slated to appear in court again next Friday.

The charge sheet lists a total of seven counts against Ortis under the various provisions, dating from as early as Jan. 1, 2015, through to Sept. 12 of this year, when he was arrested.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has said the allegations, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, given that Ortis had access to intelligence from domestic and international allies. At a news conference this week, Lucki would not comment on a possible motive or what foreign entity might be involved.

She said investigators zeroed in on Ortis after a joint probe with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation pointed to a mole in the RCMP.

The top Mountie did not directly address media reports that Ortis’s arrest stemmed from the dismantling of a Canadian firm, Phantom Secure, that sold phones allowing undetectable communication.

The FBI and international partners, including the RCMP, said in March 2018 that organized crime and drug-trafficking groups were dealt a blow by the takedown of the encrypted-communication service.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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