A Canadian senior police intelligence officer accused of stealing highly classified materials pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial on Tuesday.
Cameron Ortis, 51, was the director general of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s national intelligence coordination unit until his arrest in September 2020.
As such he had access to sensitive information concerning the powerful Five Eyes intelligence alliance between Canada and Australia, the United States, Britain and New Zealand.
His arrest convulsed the national security and intelligence community, with then-RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki saying that the alleged betrayal caused much concern within the Five Eyes.
Arriving in court in a dark blue suit and tie, Ortis pleaded not guilty to six charges of stealing highly classified materials and sharing special operational information, dating back to 2015.
The last few years awaiting trial, his lawyer Jon Doody told AFP, have “been very difficult for him.”
“He’s ready to have his day in court,” he said, adding that Ortis planned to testify in his own defense.
“He wants the jury and the public to hear his side of the story. And we’re confident that when the jury hears his version of events that they’re going to acquit.”
The trial, which began with jury selection, is scheduled to last up to eight weeks.
Many of the details surrounding the case are covered by a court-ordered publication ban and so cannot be divulged.
But Canadian media have reported that authorities got wind of Ortis’s alleged crimes through a separate investigation of a British Columbia company that provided encrypted mobile phones to drug traffickers and money launderers around the world.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly discovered emails from Ortis on the laptop of Phantom Secure Communications founder and key administrator Vincent Ramos, who has admitted to racketeering in the United States.