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Cameron Ortiz: Trudeau Calms Allies Against Alleged Spying Case



  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Copyright
Reuters

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada takes allegations against Cameron Ortiz "very seriously"

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to reassure the Allies following a purported espionage case with possible international implications.

A senior intelligence officer was indicted last week for violating national security laws.

Cameron Ortiz had access to information coming from Canada's global allies, RCMP national police reported.

Canada is in close contact with its intelligence partners on the case, says Mr Trudeau.

"We are in direct communication with our security allies," the prime minister said while campaigning in Newfoundland on Tuesday.

"We also work with them to reassure them, but we want to ensure that everyone understands that we take this situation very seriously."

Canada is a member of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, which also includes the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

"We acknowledge that these allegations, if proven true, are extremely troubling," RCMP Commissioner Brenda Luke said on Tuesday.

What are the charges against Mr Ortis?

Mr Ortiz, who was the civilian director general of the Police Intelligence Unit, is accused of violating the Information Security Act and the Penal Code.

The charges against him include "unauthorized transmission of special operational information", possessing a device or software "useful for concealing the content of information or for secretly transmitting, receiving or retaining information" and breach of trust by The public

Few other details have been released about the alleged crimes, although they were committed during his time as an RCMP officer.

Copyright
Reuters

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Cameron Ortiz, shown in a court sketch from his hearing in Canada on September 1
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What do we know about the investigation?

The investigation dates back to 2018, when the RCMP assisted the FBI in a separate investigation, during which investigators came across documents suggesting that there might be some internal corruption, a "mole."

This triggered a separate investigation to find the source of the leak. The investigation led to the RCMP and then to the possible arrest of Mr Ortis last week, Ms Lucki said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Upon learning that there was cause for concern, the force took immediate steps to protect intelligence, she said.

According to the security clearance, Mr. Ortiz had access to information held by the Canadian intelligence community and intelligence coming from international allies.

The RCMP stated that it was aware of the potential risks to the operations of its partner agencies in Canada and abroad and an assessment of the impact, if any, on security operations.

"The investigation is ongoing and we are evaluating the potential consequences of [Mr Ortis] activities," said Ms. Lucki.

How bad is this?

Ms Lucki says that for the time being, the Allies are still sharing intelligence with the relevant Canadian authorities, despite the fact that leaks could damage their countries' intelligence operations.

But she acknowledged that there was "always an opportunity" for partner agencies to lose confidence in the RCMP.

"I would definitely imagine that there is concern both within our Five Eyes community and within Canada," she said.

Ms Lucki stated that national police forces put in place measures to mitigate existing risks – and to prevent the recurrence of something similar.

CBC News reports that Mr. Ortiz had highly classified material that, if released, would cause serious harm to Canada and its allies.

Mr Ortiz examined allegations that Russian tax fraudsters had spent millions of dollars through Canada, an American financier told Reuters.

Bill Browder, a high-ranking critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he met with Mr. Ortiz twice in Canada in 2017 after reporting to the RCMP about the matter.


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