Thursday, October 11, 2012

Canadian Spy Pleads Guilty To Selling Secrets To Russians


Jeffrey Paul Delisle, the 41-year-old Canadian naval officer who sold sold secrets to Russia for $3,000 a month, pleaded guilty yesterday in Nova Scotia Provincial Court to communicating safeguarded information and breach of trust. Richard J. Brennan of the The Toronto Star writes:
Like some spy in a Cold War drama, the junior navy officer downloaded reams of secret intelligence from his sensitive military post then passed it to his Russian handlers on a USB stick. A Crown prosecutor said that the navy sub-lieutenant and father of four shared a “vast amount” of data. In a surprise move, Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty Wednesday, just as his pre-trial was about to begin on charges of passing secrets to a foreign entity or terrorist group.
“It is suggested that the evidence was reasonably overwhelming,” said national security expert Christian Leuprecht, who teaches political science at both Queen’s University and Royal Military College. Delisle, who has been held at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility since his arrest last January, returns to court in January for sentencing. The guilty plea lifted the publication ban that had kept details of Delisle’s crimes under wraps.
Federal Crown attorney Lyne Decarie had laid out the case against the naval officer during his March 28 bail hearing, telling the court how he had walked into the Russian Embassy in Ottawa five years ago and offered information for sale. At the time, Delisle knew he was committing “professional suicide,” Decarie told the court. “The day I flipped sides ... from that day on, that was the end of my days as Jeff Delisle,” Decarie read from his statement.
Lt. Deslisle was charged with violating the federal Security of Information Act, a law enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.What Lt. Deslisle had done in reprehensible and no reason can justify his actions; he's quoted as saying he acted for ideological reasons and not for money. That doesn't make his actions more honourable, not in the least. He was in a position of trust, and that he betrayed that trust is undeniable; he pleaded guilty. That's good, at least he's admitted his wrong. But that alone is insufficient to explain the damage he's done, including to Canada's relations to the U.S., U.K., New Zealand and Australia. As Alistair MacDonald of The Wall Street Journal writes:
Lt. Delisle downloaded intelligence from a number of databases including a system called Stone Ghost, which is open to the so-called Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance between the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, these people said. Lt. Delisle's attorney, Mike Taylor, speaking Wednesday after the guilty plea, said the amount of data his client compromised was "significant."
The leaks caused a temporary breach between Canadian military intelligence and U.S. counterparts, according to people familiar with the matter. Though U.S. and Canadian officials came to terms on the issue, the rift underscored the seriousness with which Washington took the incident. Canadian officials at the time publicly insisted that allies weren't overly concerned.
The leak alarmed American officials, in part, because of the large volume of data stolen, said a person familiar with U.S. government discussions of the matter.
In the old days he might have been tried for treason and shot. We live in modern times and a long stay behind bars would be justified in this case. Lt. Deslisle will be back in court on January 10 to receive his sentence.

You can read the rest of the article at [The Star]