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Mounties lay secrets-law charges against top RCMP official

Canada's national police announced Friday it has arrested a senior intelligence official in its own force on charges of breaching Canada's secrets law.

Authorities alleged Cameron Jay Ortis tried to disclose classified information to a foreign entity. They didn't say to whom.

Ortis had served in a civilian role as director general of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police intelligence unit.

The RCMP said the 47-year-old was charged under three sections of the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions, including breach of trust.

Ortis made a brief court appearance Friday.

Prosecutor John MacFarlane said the allegations are that he obtained, stored, processed sensitive information, with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn't be communicating it to. MacFarlane declined further comment.

Ortis earned a doctorate in political science from the University of British Columbia, completing a dissertation on the international dimensions of internet security.

Brian Job, a professor of political science at the university, said by email that he has seen Ortis very occasionally since Ortis left the school.

"Cameron never provided details of his employment with the RCMP. Nothing in my experience with Cameron would lead me to suspect his alleged involvement in the activities for which he charged. Indeed, the exact opposite is true," Job said.

Ortis, wearing a blue dress shirt, appeared in court by video link.

MacFarlane said the prosecution will argue at a coming bail proceeding that Ortis should remain in custody while his case is before the courts.

The charge sheet lists a total of seven counts against Ortis under the various provisions, dating from as early as Jan. 1, 2015, through to Thursday, when he was arrested.

The RCMP said the charges stem from activities alleged to have occurred during his time with the force, suggesting he was active with the Mounties up to the time he was taken into custody.

The Security of Information Act, ushered in following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, is intended to safeguard sensitive government secrets. Charges have been rare but Jeffrey Paul Delisle, a naval officer who gave classified material to Russia, pleaded guilty to offenses under the act in 2012.

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