Canada reportedly expels Russian diplomats over spy affair

Jeffrey Paul DelisleBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Canadian government officials have refused to confirm or deny media reports that Ottawa expelled several Russian diplomats recently in connection with an alleged espionage affair. The alleged expulsions are reportedly connected with the case of Royal Canadian Navy Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Paul Delisle. Earlier this week, Delisle became the first person to be charged under Canada’s post-9/11 Security of Information Act, for allegedly passing protected government information to an unspecified foreign body. According to media reports, Delisle, who had top-level security clearance, worked at Canada’s ultra-secure TRINITY communications center in Halifax. Canadian authorities have refused to reveal the country for which Delisle allegedly spied. But late last night, CTV revealed that the names of two Russian diplomats and two technicians stationed at the embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa had been quietly dropped from the list of recognized diplomatic officials in Canada. The list, which is approved periodically by the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, contains the names of all foreign diplomats legally permitted to operate in Canada. One of the missing names, that of Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry V. Fedorchatenko, bears the title of the embassy’s Assistant Defense Attaché. Russian consular officials in Canada rejected speculation that the missing diplomats were expelled by the Canadian government in connection with the Delisle affair. It appears that Canadian counterintelligence investigators had been monitoring Jeff Delisle for quite some time, perhaps even before 2010. If Delisle acted —as he is reported to have done— as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia, it is certainly not surprising that he was a naval officer. He was probably selected by the Russians because he was a member of the Royal Canadian Navy. Ever since Canada joined NATO, in the late 1940s, its tactical contribution to the Organization has been mostly naval. Along with Norway and Iceland, Canada has acted as NATO’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the north Atlantic Ocean. Since the end of the Cold War, Canada has been particularly critical when it comes to the maneuvers of Russian submarines —whether conventional or nuclear— in the northern seas. Delisle’s precise intelligence duties are not clear at this moment, and may never be publicly revealed; but if he had any access at all to ACOUSTINT (Acoustical Intelligence) data on Russian vessels, or other maritime intelligence collected by Canadian naval forces, he would have been especially useful to the GRU (Russian military intelligence). Meanwhile, Washington has remained silent on the subject. Given that Canada is a full member of NATO, it would be unthinkable that Ottawa would not have notified the United States about Delisle. In fact, it is obligated to do so as part of the Treaty, just as Estonia was obligated to notify NATO in the case of Russian spy Herman Simm. At this stage, it can be safely assumed that US counterintelligence agencies are fully involved in the Delisle case, and probably have been for several months.

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