Cameron Jay Ortis, a former RCMP intelligence official, has been found guilty of disclosing secrets, a significant breach of the Security of Information Act. This verdict followed extensive testimonies from Ortis and his colleagues at the RCMP. However, there was crucial evidence that the jurors didn’t hear, now revealed through a sworn statement, evidence from bail proceedings, and a preliminary ruling from Justice Robert Maranger.
Ortis, who became the director general of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre in 2016, was responsible for tracking trends of interest to the force. He had previously worked with the RCMP’s Operations Research group, dealing with highly classified information on various threats. In 2019, covert searches of Ortis’s Ottawa apartment uncovered a laptop with a folder labeled “Batman,” containing 400 classified documents related to national security. These documents, stripped of identifying marks and converted to PDFs, were accessed from the Canadian Top Secret Network (CTSN), a highly secure network used by Canadian law enforcement intelligence.
Join us on Telegram: https://t.me/tfiglobal
RCMP Sgt. Jamie Driscoll’s May 2020 statement detailed further incriminating evidence against Ortis, including a to-do list referencing “The Project” and notes about “processing” and planning “first contact.” This was interpreted as planning to commit offenses. Notably, Ortis had saved images of business cards from Chinese diplomats and a Top Secret U.S. National Security Agency document mentioning the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. This suggested intentions to share sensitive information with foreign entities.
Initially, Ortis faced additional charges related to preparation for an offense, including possession of a device linked to this preparation. However, these charges were dismissed before trial as keeping certain information secret was deemed more important than public disclosure, even though it was crucial for Ortis’s defense.
During bail hearings, the Crown argued against granting bail to Ortis, citing his escalated efforts and the risk of him seeking asylum. Ortis was initially granted bail but returned to jail after a review. Parallel to the criminal case, Federal Court proceedings determined the need to keep some information secret to protect national security.
In October 2022, Maranger concluded that suppressing information would hinder Ortis’s defense, leading to the dismissal of the preparatory charges. Ortis had planned to argue that his actions were intended to pitch a response strategy to senior RCMP executives against a foreign threat. Former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson described Ortis as competent and security-conscious, unaware of any activities outside his remit.
Investigators interviewed Ortis post-arrest, revealing his reliance on to-do lists and anticipation of the worst consequences. Intercepted communications from jail painted a picture of Ortis contemplating his future, regretting sacrifices made for his career, and expressing his misery over the past years. Despite the lack of a clear motive, the evidence and Ortis’s own words provided insight into his actions and state of mind during and after the alleged offenses.