Intelligence: Canadian Spycatchers Get Schooled

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October 15, 2013: The Canadian military is not happy with how the government handled a recent case of a naval officer (Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle) who was caught spying for the Russians. The military was particularly upset at how they were cut out of the investigation by CSIS (the Canadian CIA) and the RCMP (the Canadian FBI) and prosecution by civilian courts. The military would have preferred to court martial Delisle, a procedure that could have kept more of the details (useful to foreign espionage agencies) out of the news. Last October Delisle pled guilty and earlier this year was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The military got to demote and expel him but the 42 year old Delisle will be out in as little as 15 years. At that point some of the secrets he knew would still be useful to some foreign governments. The military would have preferred to put Delisle away for life.

Because of Canadian secrecy laws there was little public knowledge of this case until January 2012, when two Russian diplomats were expelled from Canada and it soon became known that this was connected with the arrest of a Canadian naval officer. Canadian secrecy laws kept any details out of the news until Delisle pled guilty on October 10th, 2012.

Turns out that Delisle had not been recruited by Russian diplomats, as some believed, but had walked into the Russian embassy and offered his services. Delisle worked in a top-secret Canadian intelligence center where intelligence sharing operations (with NATO and other allies) were located. Delisle had access to secrets from all the countries involved, and for over four years (2007-11) Delisle delivered a thumb drive full of secret documents each month to the Russians. In return, Delisle was paid about $3,000 a month. Delisle did it for the money which, since the end of the Cold War, has become the primary motivation for spies recruited in other countries.

Canada was embarrassed by this lapse in their counter-intelligence (seeking out spies) efforts and reviewed and changed its procedures to at least make it harder for any future spy to operate within the Canadian military. Many of the resulting changes are classified but are believed to involve increased sharing of counterintelligence (seeking out spies within Canada) operations between military intelligence, CSIS, the RCMP, and foreign intelligence agencies. In the case of Delisle, the American FBI told CSIS in late 2011 they suspected Delisle was a spy. CSIC later said they already suspected Delisle but the FBI tip enabled them to bring in the RCMP to build the criminal case and get an indictment in a civilian court. About this time the military was informed of the investigations and the FBI tip and told that prosecution would be handled by a civilian court rather that a court martial.

 

 


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