Former RCMP intelligence official found guilty of violating secrets act

A jury has found Cameron Ortis, the former RCMP intelligence official accused of leaking secret information to police targets, guilty of all charges against him.

The former civilian RCMP member faced six charges in total, including multiple counts under the Security of Information Act, the law meant to protect Canada’s secrets.

The Crown suggested they’ll be seeking a sentence in the range of 20 years.

Justice Robert Maranger revoked Ortis’s bail. A sentencing hearing will be held in early January.

Ortis showed little emotion as the jury read out their decision. He hugged both of his lawyers after hearing the verdict.

The Crown argued Ortis used his position within the RCMP — leading a unit that had access to Canadian and allied intelligence — to leak sensitive information to police targets in early 2015.

Ortis claimed during his trial that he was acting to protect Canada from a “grave threat” passed along by a foreign entity. 

Ortis was accused of leaking special operational information “without authority” to Phantom Secure CEO Vincent Ramos — who sold encrypted cellphones to organized crime members — and Salim Henareh and Muhammad Ashraf, two men police suspected of being agents of an international money-laundering network with ties to terrorists.

Ortis was accused of sending the men Canadian intelligence, including RCMP assets and documents from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). He also was accused of leaking a report put together by the Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance that includes the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In an email shown to the jury, Ortis asked Ramos for $20,000 for more intelligence. No evidence suggested Ortis ever received money.

The 51-year-old was also accused of trying to leak information to Farzam Mehdizadeh. One RCMP witness told Ortis’s trial he believes Mehdizadeh worked with “the most important money launderers in the world.”

Ortis said he was working to protect Canada

During his four days of in-camera testimony earlier this month, Ortis claimed he was actually working on a secret operation based on information from a foreign agency.

According to a transcript of that testimony, the alleged operation, which Ortis said he called “OR Nudge,” was intended to lure criminals to an encrypted email service to allow authorities to intercept their messages. Outside of the courtroom, the email service called Ortis’s claims “completely false” and “salacious.”

Ortis, who is permanently bound to secrecy, said he didn’t loop in anyone else from the RCMP on his plan because his foreign counterpart shared information with him on the condition that it be kept private.

He also testified the police targets had moles within Canadian law enforcement agencies.

The Ortis trial was the first to test Security of Information Act charges in court.

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