Intelligence officer facing espionage charge had top-level clearance

OTTAWA AND HALIFAX — The Globe and Mail
Last updated Thursday, Sep. 06 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

Defence Minister Peter MacKay holds a news conference at DND headquarters in Ottawa on Jan. 17, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The man at the centre of an alleged espionage scandal worked in a military communications nerve centre where sources say Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Paul Delisle would have had top-level clearance to peruse Canada’s defence secrets.

Sources say SLt. Delisle’s most recent posting, the ultra-secure HMCS Trinity communications centre in Halifax, is surrounded by barbed wire and protected by an electronic shield that blocks unauthorized transmissions.

On Tuesday, the naval intelligence officer accused of spying had his bail hearing in a Halifax court delayed until next week at the request of his lawyer, who wanted more time to prepare. SLt. Delisle opted not to appear in court. “He doesn’t want to come up,” defence lawyer Cameron MacKeen told the judge, referring to the jail cells used by prisoners due in court.

What may be the biggest spy scandal in Canada in more than half a century exploded Monday after SLt. Delisle was charged with passing secrets to a “foreign entity” under Canada’s Information Security Act. It’s the first charge of its kind ever laid and one where the maximum penalty is the toughest possible under this country’s justice system: life in prison.

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