Canada spy agency refused to notify Mounties about Russian agent
May 27, 2013 7 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Canada’s main counterintelligence agency opted to keep secret from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) vital information about a Canadian naval officer who spied for Russia. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the case of Jeffrey Paul Delisle, a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy, who until 2011 was employed at Canada’s ultra-secure TRINITY communications center in Halifax. Delisle was arrested in January 2012 for passing information gathered from radio and radar signal interceptions to a foreign power, most likely Russia. In May of last year, it emerged that it was in fact the United States that alerted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) about Delisle’s espionage activities. What was supposed to happen next was that the CSIS —which is not a law enforcement agency— should have notified the RCMP of Delisle’s activities and requested his prompt arrest. Remarkably, however, the CSIS chose to keep the Delisle file concealed from the RCMP, ostensibly to prevent the possible exposure of intelligence sources and methods in open-court proceedings. The Canadian Press, which broke the story on Sunday, cited “numerous sources familiar with the Delisle case” in claiming that the CSIS’ refusal to request Delisle’s arrest “frustrated Washington”, which feared that the spy was routinely compromising United States secrets shared by America with its Canadian allies. So frustrated were the Americans, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sketched out a plan to lure Delisle onto US soil and arrest him there. Eventually, the FBI decided to simply sideline the CSIS and contact the RCMP itself. As soon as the RCMP received the FBI’s notification, it opened a case against Delisle, which led to the naval officer’s arrest in January of 2012. During his trial, Delisle admitted having spied for Russia in exchange for over $110,000 over a period of four years, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Canadian Press says the CSIS’s refusal to notify the RCMP about the spy’s activities “raises question about whether the naval officer could have been arrested sooner”, thus safeguarding many of the secrets he routinely shared with Moscow. The news agency approached several Canadian intelligence officials with this question, including Michel Coulombe, CSIS’s former Director of Operations and interim Director, who refused to speak publicly on the case.