Intelligence director charged was aiding FBI probe at time of arrest: RCMP commissioner

Investigators came across documents that led the force to believe there could be a mole

FILE - RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki appears at a House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in Ottawa on May 7, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Top Mountie Brenda Lucki says an RCMP employee charged with trying to disclose secret information was supporting a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation probe before his arrest.

The RCMP commissioner, addressing the arrest of Cameron Jay Ortis in person for the first time, also says there is a lot of conjecture, speculation and false information swirling about the arrest.

Lucki says investigators came across documents during the joint FBI probe that led the force to believe there could be a mole, or some kind of “internal corruption.”

READ MORE: Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

A sensitive-investigations team looked for months into possible leaks before the arrest last week of the 47-year-old Ortis, who faces charges under the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions for allegedly trying to disclose classified material to a foreign entity or terrorist group.

Lucki isn’t commenting on a possible motive, what foreign entity is involved, or what information Ortis had access to in his role as director general of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre.

The RCMP commissioner didn’t directly address media reports that Ortis’s arrest stemmed from the dismantling of a Canadian firm, Phantom Secure, that sold phones allowing uncrackable communication.

The FBI and international partners, including the RCMP, said in March 2018 that organized crime and drug-trafficking groups were dealt a blow by the takedown of the encrypted-communication service.

They said Phantom Secure purchased smartphones, removed all of the typical functionality — calling, texting, Internet, and GPS — and installed an encrypted e-mail system, so the phones could communicate only with each other.

If a customer was arrested, Phantom Secure destroyed the data on that phone, which is obstruction of justice under U.S. law, police said.

Lucki says the force is trying to assess and deal with the damage that might have been caused.

She also says the arrest should not be seen as a reflection on the work of the RCMP as a whole.

Ortis began his career with the Mounties in 2007 after earning a doctorate in political science.

The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Mounties lay secrets-law charges against one of their own

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