Surprise guilty plea for Canadian charged with passing secrets to Russia

A 41-year-old father of four charged with spying for Russia has entered a guilty plea on day one of a preliminary hearing in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Canadian Forces Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle was facing charges of breach of trust and two counts of passing information to a foreign entity. A sentencing hearing has been set for January.

An “Ironkey” encrypted thumb drive. Photo: John Ager, CC Some rights reserved

As reported by the CBC and other news outlets, Delisle basically walked into the Russian embassy in 2007 and volunteered his services. For about 4 years classified material walked out the door on a thumb drive in his pocket.

The National Post reports:

The case against Delisle marked the first time someone had been charged under the Security of Information Act and his guilty plea is the first conviction under the federal law. The act was passed by the House of Commons after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

It’s unclear what sentence will be sought, but Delisle could face a life sentence.

Possible damage to national security was summarized in an additional Globe and Mail report by  Steven Chase and Jane Taber’s titled “How Canadian spy Jeffrey Delisle betrayed his country for cash”:

He had access to databases with protected information from Canada and the country’s allies through intelligence-sharing systems such as the “Five Eyes” network linking Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

While bad for all of the nations listed above, the scandal may prove especially harmful for Canada:

It eroded relations with Canada’s allies and reduced the chances that these other nations would share vital information with Ottawa. His superiors at Trinity, the top-secret naval intelligence facility in Halifax opined that the espionage could push Canada’s relations with allied intelligence organizations “back to the Stone Age.”

Experts frequently caution that human error  – or actual malice – can thwart most security systems.

No more micro film famously hidden in pumpkin patches. These days it can all be done on a thumb drive.

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1 Comment on “Surprise guilty plea for Canadian charged with passing secrets to Russia”

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  1. Paul says:

    From the Globe and Mail:

    “SLt. Delisle, who was arrested in January 2012, smuggled out information from top-secret Canadian military facilities using a memory stick hidden in his pocket.”

    They don’t sound to Top Secret if he can do that??

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