Project Traveller warrants to stay secret from media, judge rules
Media organizations sought to see if warrants referenced Mayor Rob Ford
A judge has denied the media an opportunity to look at secret warrants that were used during Project Traveller, the sprawling police investigation that culminated in a series of high-profile raids in Toronto earlier this year.
The CBC and other media organizations had been seeking to unseal the warrants from the Project Traveller raids in a bid to determine if they reveal any mention of Mayor Rob Ford.
But Justice Phillip Downes ruled Monday that sensitive wiretap information used by police to obtain the warrants cannot be disclosed to the public at this time.
Under Section 193 of the Criminal Code, it is illegal to disclose intercepted private communications without the consent of at least one of the parties involved.
There are some exceptions to this, including when an individual is giving evidence in criminal or civil proceedings, or when a person must otherwise give evidence under oath. Another exception is when such communications are lawfully obtained during a criminal investigation.
But as Downes explained in his written decision, the Crown argued that when police used wiretap information to obtain warrants in Project Traveller, they were not doing so “outside of criminal proceedings as that term is understood in the context of the life of a criminal case.”
Downes concluded that the wiretap information was disclosed during a criminal investigation and not during a proceeding, which means that "disclosure of the intercepts to the public at this stage would be a criminal offence."
Ford appeared in a widely published photo with two men who were arrested during Project Traveller.
The Toronto Star has reported that a third man arrested during Project Traveller offered to sell the newspaper an alleged video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
Ford has denied both the video’s existence and using crack cocaine.
- This story has been updated to reflect that portions of the warrants have been unsealed, but are being withheld from the public and supplied only in a heavily redacted form.Sep 17, 2013 3:23 AM ET