Canadian Navy Officer Sentenced To 20 Years For Spying

by
staff
A Canadian navy officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday and ordered to pay a steep fine for leaking military secrets to Russia.

Jeffrey Paul Delisle

A Canadian navy officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday and ordered to pay a steep fine for leaking military secrets to Russia.

Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle pleaded guilty in October to breach of trust and passing information to a foreign government, but it is still not known what if any damage the security lapse caused to Canada or the United States.

His sentence is the strongest punishment for espionage in Canada's history, said prosecutor Lyne Decarie, who was satisfied with the outcome.

Canada's Chief of the Defense Staff, General Tom Lawson, said Delisle's betrayal had struck at the "bedrock" of Canada and its allies' mutual defense, putting their intelligence sharing at risk.

"A critical foundation of our intelligence mission is the mutual trust we have forged with our allies, and other intergovernmental and international partners," Lawson said in a statement.

"Through his own admission, Sub-Lieutenant Delisle violated that trust, not only with our partners, but also with the people with whom he worked on a daily basis, and with the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole."

By "willfully and deliberately" engaging in spying, said Lawson, Delisle "could have placed this country's security at higher risk. This cannot be overlooked."

Delisle was the first person to be charged under a new Canadian security and intelligence law, which was beefed up after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

In addition to two decades behind bars, Judge Patrick Curran also slapped the 41-year-old with a Can$111,817 (US$111,523) fine -- an amount equal to what he earned while spying.

In a police interrogation video released last week, Delisle said marital woes led him to betray his country. He said he had considered suicide but chose "professional suicide" instead, out of concern for his children.

Delisle has apologized in court during his trial, saying: "I would like to go back in time, but I can't."

Judge Curran however scolded him at sentencing for "coldly and rationally" offering his services to Moscow.

Delisle was an analyst at the HMCS Trinity in Halifax, a naval intelligence center that processes data from satellites and drone surveillance from across the north Atlantic region.

While working there, he had access to information from several NATO countries, including the United States and Britain.

In 2007, he walked into the Russian embassy in Ottawa and offered his services as a spy.

On Moscow's payroll since then, Delisle saved classified information on a miniature hard drive and sent it once a month to Russia.

Prosecutors revealed that he had access to the top secret Stone Ghost network of classified intelligence from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

He also tapped into a Canadian military communications network and Ottawa's secrets database Mandrake.

But the full extent of the information he sold to the Russians is unknown, the court heard.

He came under suspicion after returning in September 2011 from a trip to Brazil without a tan, and with thousands of dollars in US currency.

The court heard he had met a Russian agent who informed him he would become a liaison for all Russian agents in Canada.

According to justice department spokesman John Piccolo, with time served while awaiting trial, Delisle will be released from prison in 18 years and five months.