Canadian spy's damage debated at sentencing hearing

Naval intelligence officer Jeffrey Paul Delisle arrives for his sentencing hearing at the provincial court in Halifax, Nova Scotia January 31, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS


HALIFAX - Jeffrey Delisle's sentencing hearing was a "he said, she said" over how much damage the former naval intelligence officer caused by selling secrets to the Russians.

The Crown argued Delisle compromised the safety of Canadian intelligence assets and damaged relationships with our closest allies.

"We may be cut off from certain intelligence," Michelle Tessier of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said.

The defence countered with Wesley Wark, an intelligence and security expert. Wark said there's no way to know how much damage Delisle caused - or if there will be "real-world consequences."

"Government agencies, when they don't have the details, will engage in what's called worst-case analysis," Wark testified.

Tessier said the secrets Delisle sold could have identified sources of information and the methods Canada and its allies use to collect intelligence.

Brig.-Gen. Rob Williams, the director of security for the Canadian military, said it's too early to fully assess the damage.

"It takes a long time. We're not finished yet," Williams said.

In an agreed statement of facts, court heard that Delisle, who worked at HMCS Trinity, a naval intelligence office in Halifax, would put classified information on a thumb drive and take it home. There, he would put it in the draft message folder of an e-mail account he shared with Russian agents.

Delisle, who walked into the Russian Embassy in Ottawa in 2007 and offered to sell secrets, was arrested last January after Mounties intercepted two top-secret CSIS reports he tried to send to the Russians.

The reports were planted after Delisle took a trip to Brazil to meet his handler "Victor." He caught the attention of the FBI when he tried to bring a wad of cash back into Canada.

Delisle, who pocketed $71,817 US in four years up to that point, received $40,000 in Brazil and was to be trained for a new role after he left the Navy.

Wark said the Russians missed a golden opportunity to get more from Delisle.

"There was a big gap between what they asked him to provide and what he could have provided," Wark said.

Delisle is the first person in Canada to face charges under the Security of Information Act. Delisle is also charged with breach of trust under the Criminal Code. He faces life in prison.

Final arguments will be heard Friday.

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