RCMP director accused of stealing secrets had access to allied intelligence

OTTAWA—The high-ranking RCMP employee accused of stealing secrets had access to an extensive trove of intelligence from both Canadian and international sources.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki confirmed Monday that Cameron Ortis, the director of the force’s National Intelligence Coordination Centre, had access to information shared by international partners as well as intelligence gathered by Canadian agencies.

Lucki said Ortis’ arrest has “shaken many people throughout the RCMP.”

“We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration. We assure you that mitigation strategies are being put in place as required,” Lucki wrote in a statement.

“While these allegations, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, Canadians and our law enforcement partners can trust that our priority continues to be the integrity of the investigations and the safety and security of the public we serve.”

Ortis, 47, was arrested Thursday and charged with several offences under the Security of Information Act, Canada’s official secrets law. He also faces two criminal charges, including breach of trust.

“In broad strokes, the allegations are that he obtained, stored, processed sensitive information, we believe with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn’t be communicating it to,” said Crown prosecutor John MacFarlane after a brief court appearance Friday.

What information Ortis is alleged to have stolen — or who he intended to give it to — is not yet known. Ortis has worked in various research and intelligence roles with the RCMP since 2007, after obtaining his Ph.D. in political science from the University of British Columbia.

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In his research, Ortis wrote about the internet and cyber security, critical infrastructure, and the use of bots. He also speaks Mandarin, according to his online profile, and has written about cybersecurity issues in East Asia.

A former RCMP officer told the Star that Ortis had been “nurtured” in his career by Bob Paulson, who retired as RCMP commissioner in 2017. Paulson has not responded to multiple interview requests as of Monday morning.

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Alex Boutilier

TORONTO STAR

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