Feds step up court fight to protect spy-related info in official-secrets case

Feds step up court fight to protect spy-related info in official-secrets case

OTTAWA — The federal government is ramping up its court fight to keep a lid on documents detailing clandestine Canadian surveillance efforts.

Government lawyers are appealing a Federal Court decision ordering disclosure of sensitive information intended to help Qing Quentin Huang defend himself against charges of breaching Canada’s secrets law.

It has been almost six years since Huang was arrested in Burlington, Ont., following an RCMP-led investigation called Project Seascape.

Huang, an employee of Lloyd’s Register, a subcontractor to Irving Shipbuilding Inc., was charged under the Security of Information Act with attempting to communicate secrets to China.

Police said the information related to elements of the federal shipbuilding strategy, which includes patrol ships, frigates, naval auxiliary vessels, science research vessels and ice breakers.

Huang, who claims innocence, is free on bail.

The engineer’s criminal trial in Ontario court has been delayed while legal fights over disclosure of information in the case unfold in Federal Court, the venue for deciding how much sensitive material can be kept under wraps.

In a recent decision, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley said the government’s argument, that releasing certain information to the defence would harm Canada, was “speculative, although the risk cannot be ruled out entirely.”

“There is also a compelling public interest in protecting Mr. Huang’s fair trial rights,” Mosley wrote.

“On all of the evidence, in the circumstances of this case I am not satisfied that the public interest in non-disclosure outweighs that of assuring Mr. Huang a fair trial.”

The government is now asking the Federal Court of Appeal to find that Mosley was mistaken in concluding that making the information available to the defence “would not be injurious to national security and international relations.”

Given the delicate subject matter, the public version of Mosley’s top-secret court ruling is heavily edited, making it difficult to tell exactly what information is at stake.

However, Huang has been pushing for release of additional portions of a redacted affidavit and warrant that authorized the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to intercept telecommunications at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.

Huang was not a target of the warrant and had never been under CSIS investigation.

Still, the spy service advised the RCMP of phone calls Huang allegedly made to the embassy and claimed he “offered to provide Canadian military secrets” to the Chinese government. That prompted the police investigation resulting in Huang’s arrest.

Huang contends the warrant opened the door to a breach of his charter guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2019.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

spies

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian drivers may not be as courteous as they thing, says a new survey.
Black Press file photo
83% of Alberta drivers admit to speeding: survey

97% of drivers admit to aggressive or road rage-like behaviour

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Most Read