Spy allegations rock Canadian military

Defence Minister Peter MacKay pauses during a news conference at the National Defence headquarters...

Defence Minister Peter MacKay pauses during a news conference at the National Defence headquarters in Ottawa Jan. 17, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 6:19 PM ET

OTTAWA - Naval officer Jeffrey Delisle is a shadowed face behind a ball cap, waiting alone in a Halifax holding cell for his bail hearing next week.

But, experts say the shock waves stemming from his alleged crime -- passing top secret information to foreign agents -- have likely reached around the world, despite the Defence Minister Peter MacKay's calm words.

"Let me assure you that our allies have full confidence in Canada," MacKay said Tuesday.

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle is accused of spilling secrets to foreigners over four and a half years, starting in 2007.

He is the first person charged under the 9-11-inspired Security of Information Act.

Delisle's Halifax neighbour, Kim MacLachlan, said the sailor just seemed like an ordinary guy.

"You'd see him coming and going from work, mowing the lawn, shovelling the snow," she said, adding Delisle's wife, daughter, and two sons have abandoned the home.

Michael Hennessy, a professor at Royal Military College, said senior Canadian officials will probably try to reassure NATO allies that Canada is not a sieve for military secrets.

"I suspect there will be Canadians having conversations with many of their American and other allied counterparts, giving them various assurances."

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, is at NATO headquarters in Brussels on a pre-planned trip where he's expected to quietly reassure friends and allies.

Christian Leuprecht of Queen's University said the breach cannot be taken lightly.

"The intelligence fusion centre where he worked in Halifax monitors Atlantic ship traffic and brings together Maritime intelligence from allies as well as intelligence from civilian agencies, such as the coast guard," Leuprecht said.

"The individual would thus have had access to enough information, for instance, to alert the foreign entity both to the movement of Canadian and allied vessels and as to whether a particular vessel by a foreign entity, for instance, had been detected."

MacKay refused to respond to reports Russia received classified information or answer questions about what could shed light on the government behind the alleged spying.

When QMI Agency phoned the Russian embassy in Ottawa, the person who answered abruptly hung up when asked to comment.

-- With files from Allen Rollin


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