Spy case could have been far more embarrassing

Jeffrey Paul Delisle arrives at the provincial court to face espionage charges in Halifax January...

Jeffrey Paul Delisle arrives at the provincial court to face espionage charges in Halifax January 17, 2012. (REUTERS/Paul Darrow)

Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

OTTAWA - The case of a Canadian naval officer who spied for Russia could have been far more damaging had it gone to a full trial, says one security expert.

On Wednesday, Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle became the first Canadian to be convicted of charges under the Security of Information Act, enacted after 9/11, when he pleaded guilty to stealing intelligence on a thumb drive and passing the info over to his Russian contacts for about $3,000 per monthly exchange.

Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen's University and the Royal Military College, said that however much damage was done by Delisle's actions, it would have been more damaging to Canada if the methods by which Delisle was caught were divulged in court. Delisle's guilty plea means that won't happen.

"A greater loss would be having to lay open Canada's counter-espionage measures," Leuprecht said. "We know that China and Russia spy on us but what this shows is Canada's success in rooting out the mole."

Officials in Ottawa and Washington have refused to comment on Delisle's guilty plea, citing security reasons and saying the case is still before the courts until sentencing in the new year.

Reports in the summer out of Australia indicate the case had indeed raised security questions with our allies.

Australian government officials discussed Delisle's accusations with their Canadian counterparts, worried that Australia's secrets may have been among those sold to Russia, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

According to the paper, Australian security sources privately acknowledged Delisle accessed U.S and Australian security intelligence, as well as Canadian.

Other reports suggested the U.S. was helpful in supplying Canadian authorities with information that helped with the investigation.


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