The ethics of police infiltration


Canadian activist Julian Ichim, says he knows first hand what it's like to have his personal life invaded, by an undercover officer. He feels abused and betrayed. We hear his story and and discuss when police infiltration is justified and when it may go too far.

Julian Ichim trusted his close friend who turned out to be an under cover police and wound up getting arrested

Most Canadians would likely support -- even admire -- the efforts of an undercover cop who infiltrates a terrorist organization or spies on an underworld gang. But what should they think of an officer posing as a member of an activist group -- or penetrating the personal and social life of one of its members?

Julian Ichim is an anti-poverty activist from Kitchener, Ontario, whose group was infiltrated by an undercover provincial police officer before the G20 meetings back in 2010 in Toronto.

Last week, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that Mr. Ichim would not face a possible two-year sentence for violating a publication ban by posting the officer's pseudonym on his blog. Though Mr. Ichim could still face six months in jail, he is separately pursuing a $4 million dollar lawsuit because he says the officer encouraged criminal acts while posing as an activist. Those claims have not been proven in court.

We contacted the Ontario Provincial Police for a response. A spokesperson said "His interpretation of the facts are his and he's welcome to have his opinion on the events that transpired." They did not want to discuss it further.

Steve Hewitt investigates the use of infiltration as a tactic to gather intelligence. He is a senior lecturer in the department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham, and the author of Snitch: A History of The Modern Intelligence Informer.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.

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