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Cameron Ortis sentenced to 14 years in prison for violating the Secrets Act

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Ortis, 51, led the RCMP's operational research group, which gathered classified information on cybercriminals, terrorist cells and transnational criminal networks. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

Former Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) intelligence chief Cameron Ortis was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for violating Canada's Privacy Act.

Ortis was found guilty in November, following his trial where he pleaded not guilty to all charges, including that of violating the Security of Information Act by disclosing classified information to three persons of interest to the RCMP in 2015, and attempting to do so in a fourth instance.

Justice Robert Maranger of Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa said Wednesday that taking into account preventive detention, Ortis will have to serve another 7 years and 155 days in prison.

Ortis, 51, led the RCMP's operational research group, which collected classified information on cybercriminals, terrorist cells and transnational criminal networks.

Jurors in November found Ortis guilty of three counts of violating the Protection of Information and Information Act. one count of attempting to do so. Each of these counts carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

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The Crown requested in January consecutive maximum sentences for the first two counts charged with violating the law, for a total of 28 years in prison. She wanted the sentences to be served concurrently for the other two violations of the law.

The Crown therefore considered that a prison sentence of 22 to 25 years would be appropriate if the judge took into account the principle of totality, which avoids excessive sentences.

The defense, for its part, argued for a sentence of seven years and two months — the time he should be credited since his arrest in September 2019, according to his lawyer.

During the trial of Cameron Ortis, a picture emerged of an intense and cleverly intelligent man — an avid runner who kept his private life to himself.

Ortis testified that he did not betray the RCMP. Rather, he says he offered secret material to investigative targets in an effort to trick them into using an online encryption service set up by an allied intelligence agency to spy on adversaries.

The Crown could not identify his motive, but argued that Ortis had no authority to release classified documents and that #x27;he was not doing it as part of a legitimate undercover operation.

Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer argued in January that Ortis deserved an exemplary sentence that will show the public and Canada's international partners that the system designed to protect sensitive information has teeth.

Ortis was briefly released on bail after his arrest in late 2019, only to return to an Ottawa jail for more than three years. He was released on bail again, with strict conditions, in December 2022, pending his trial which took place last fall in Ottawa.

At his sentencing hearing in January, his lawyer, Jon Doody, argued the unusual difficulties Ortis endured in custody. He said Ortis had spent years alone in pretrial detention, contracted COVID-19, and was repeatedly strip-searched and X-rayed during document review sessions in his case, in a secure off-site facility.

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