A former intelligence director with the RCMP pleaded not guilty Tuesday to accusations he disclosed secret information to a suspect with ties to organized crime.
In her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer told a 12-person jury that the case against Cameron Ortis is “highly unusual.”
In 2018, the RCMP learned of a potential intelligence leaker following the arrest of Vincent Ramos, a tech entrepreneur who sold hyper-encrypted phones to a Mexican cartel.
The federal police service uncovered an anonymous email dated April 29, 2015 that contained 10 attachments on their “Project Saturation” investigation against Ramos, the Crown told the court.
After an 18-month investigation, they uncovered an email thread to Ramos by the same individual, with partial attachments on “the identity of an undercover operator that had been asked to approach Mr. Ramos and his associates.”
“The thing you are being asked to decide in this file is one that is very unique and, in some respects, quite important, because this in fact is the first occasion on which someone has been charged under Section 14 of the Security of Information Act in Canada that has been in place since 2001,” Kliewer said to the jury.
For a $20,000 fee, the Crown alleged Ortis offered Ramos the complete documents, reported the Ottawa Citizen.
The prosecutor told the court that Ortis allegedly sent the complete files to Ramos but did not confirm if the latter paid the fee.
Upon the arrest of the former intelligence director in September 2019, law enforcement uncovered an encrypted USB stick at his apartment that contained the two email addresses used to communicate with Ramos.
It also had files on the project, including “RCMP documents, emails and scripts for communication to more targets of international police investigations,” said Kliewer.
However, the former Mountie pleaded not guilty to six charges, including “intentionally and without authority” sharing “special operational information” to four individuals in 2015.
The other persons included Salim Hanareh, Muhammad Ashraf and Farzam Mehdizadeh, all RCMP suspects in an international money-laundering network.
Ortis’ lawyers confirmed the authenticity of those details, but contend their client had the authority to disclose secret police information.
The court also learned that the defendant had high-level access to both Canadian and allied intelligence and is bound to secrecy for life on the information he accessed.
“He was in charge of [the] only unit in the RCMP that was permitted [unrestricted] access [to] the Five Eyes intelligence community’s intelligence database,” claimed Kliewer.
She referenced “no records” existed of Ortis conducting the alleged activities as part of an undercover operation, given he was on leave from the RCMP when he sent the anonymous emails.
“He was one of the highest-ranking people in the RCMP with that designation,” added Kliewer, who argued Ortis had “no such authority" to "communicate what he did.”
The former RCMP intelligence director is expected to testify at the trial, which is scheduled to last between one and two months.