A high-ranking RCMP civilian who allegedly leaked classified information will testify in his own defence and is keen for a jury to hear his story at his coming trial, according to his Ottawa-based lawyer.
Cameron Ortis is accused of violating the Security of Information Act by revealing secrets to an unnamed recipient, in addition to breach of trust and a computer-related offence. His trial is set to begin in Ottawa on Oct. 2 at the Superior Court of Justice.
Defence lawyer Jon Doody, who is representing Mr. Ortis, told The Globe and Mail Thursday that his client is “looking forward to having his day in court” after four years since his arrest. Mr. Ortis believes he has a “compelling story to tell,” Mr. Doody added.
“We are confident that the jury will be interested to hear what he has to say and will find him not guilty.”
The coming legal proceedings are expected to garner considerable public attention in Canada and abroad, just as Mr. Ortis’s arrest in September, 2019, did. Security observers say that the charges created significant security concerns within the RCMP and intelligence community.
At the time of his arrest, Mr. Ortis worked as the civilian director-general of the RCMP National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre. The RCMP said that he was first hired in 2007 and held positions in operations research and national security criminal investigations.
The force confirmed Friday that Mr. Ortis is no longer an employee.
Brenda Lucki, who was serving as RCMP commissioner when Mr. Ortis was arrested, said in September, 2019, that he had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed by virtue of the positions he held.
“He also had access to intelligence coming from our allies both domestically and internationally,” she said, adding: “This level of access is appropriate given the positions he held.”
The charges against him stemmed from work conducted by the RCMP with the FBI in 2018, where the force “uncovered possible internal corruption,” Ms. Lucki said in 2019. “We took immediate action and launched an investigation into the alleged activities. Our focus has been to diligently pursue this investigation, which led to the arrest.”
A senior government official told The Globe in 2019 that the RCMP discovered one of its internal documents on a laptop seized by American authorities in March, 2018, triggering an investigation that culminated in Mr. Ortis’s arrest.
The laptop belonged to Vincent Ramos, a Vancouver businessman whose company, Phantom Secure, produced encrypted communications devices used by criminal organizations. Mr. Ramos was charged in the U.S. with conspiring to distribute narcotics and racketeering, and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Ms. Lucki said the charges against Mr. Ortis had “shaken” many people throughout the RCMP, particularly in the area of federal policing.
“As you can appreciate, the charges have not been proven in court and there is a need to protect the ongoing investigation and allow due process to occur,” she said.
Born in Abbotsford, B.C., Mr. Ortis graduated from the University of British Columbia with a doctorate in political science. He was especially interested in the internet and cybersecurity. His thesis was titled Bowing to Quirinus: Compromised Nodes and Cyber Security in East Asia.
Shortly after Mr. Ortis completed his time at UBC, he left Vancouver to pursue job opportunities in Ottawa.
He was so well-regarded as a civilian intelligence analyst that some superiors wanted to send him for a shortened stint in police training and turn him into an officer. Current and retired members of the force previously told The Globe that the plan was supported by former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson in 2019.
“I thought he was just really, really bright,” Mr. Paulson said at the time. “He had tremendous work ethic and an intensity in his analysis that led to his rise in terms of leadership.”
With a report from The Canadian Press