Politics

Alleged RCMP spy Cameron Ortis released on bail

For the first time in more than five weeks, Cameron Ortis, the senior RCMP official accused of preparing to leak sensitive information, won't spend the night in a jail cell.

Ortis is charged under the Security of Information Act

Cameron Ortis, a senior intelligence official at the RCMP, leaves the courthouse in Ottawa after being granted bail, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Ortis is accused on charges of violating the Security of Information Act and breach of trust for allegedly disclosing secrets to an unknown recipient. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

For the first time in more than five weeks, Cameron Ortis, the senior RCMP official accused of preparing to leak sensitive information, won't spend the night in a jail cell.

The director general of the force's national intelligence coordination centre walked out of an Ottawa courthouse today, after a justice of the peace granted him bail under strict conditions.

"Mr. Ortis is very pleased with the decision. He's looking forward to being released from custody and to moving on to the next stage, which is defending himself against the charges," his lawyer Ian Carter told reporters outside the courthouse this morning.

According to his bail terms, Ortis, 47, will have to live with his parents in Abbotsford, B.C., is forbidden from using any kind of device that can connect to the internet and has to report to an RCMP detachment once a week.

The reasons for granting him bail are covered by a publication ban and can't be disclosed — a routine proceeding for bail hearings.

Ortis is charged under the Security of Information Act with preparing to share sensitive information with a foreign entity or terrorist organization. He's also charged with sharing operational information back in 2015.

The charges Ortis faces have a "reverse onus" rule for bail — meaning that it was up to his defence team to convince the court that bail should be granted.

As Justice of the Peace Serge Legault delivered his decision, Ortis smiled at his family and his mother broke out in quiet tears.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has said that, by virtue of his position, Ortis had access to intelligence gathered by both Canadian authorities and foreign allies.

According to documents viewed by CBC in the immediate aftermath of his arrest, the classified intelligence material Ortis allegedly was preparing to share included some of the most closely protected of Canada's national security assets, and its dissemination would have threatened Canada's relations with its allies.

The documents said Canada's security services first got wind of Ortis's alleged activities through a separate probe of Phantom Secure Communications, a B.C.-based company under investigation for allegedly providing encrypted communication devices to international criminals.

The FBI discovered in 2018 that a person was sending emails to company CEO Vincent Ramos offering to provide valuable information. Canadian authorities believe that person was Ortis, the documents allege.

The investigation into Ortis is still ongoing.

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