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Senior Canadian Intelligence Official Found Guilty of Passing Secrets to Individuals Tied to Iran

Cameron Jay Ortis, a former RCMP intelligence official charged with breaching Canada's secrets law, arrives for his trial at the courthouse in Ottawa, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
Cameron Jay Ortis, a former RCMP intelligence official charged with breaching Canada’s secrets law, arrives for his trial at the courthouse in Ottawa, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A jury in Canada found Cameron Jay Ortis, a former intelligence official of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), guilty of breaching Canada’s secrets laws and passing information to international criminals and money launderers connected to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The trial came following Ortis’s arrest in 2019, which, according to Canadian officials, sent a “shockwave through the Canadian security and intelligence community.”

The jury found Ortis guilty of three counts of violating the Security of Information Act and one count of trying to do so. Prosecutors stated that not only did Ortis pass information, but he had classified files that could have only been of interest to rogue states and that he was attempting to share them before his arrest in 2019.

Court documents from 2014 revealed that the RCMP and other intelligence agencies from Canada’s allies were investigating money laundering activities conducted by various organizations associated with a Dubai-based money service business owner named Altaf Khanani.

The entities under investigation included Salim Henareh and his businesses Persepolis International and Rosco Trading, Muhammad Ashraf and his firm Finmark Financial, and Farzam Mehdizadeh and his firm Aria Exchange.

According to reports, Mehdizadeh allegedly once owned the biggest Islamic Republic exchange bureau in Canada and was arrested in 2016 but then fled to Tehran after being released on bail.

Ortis pleaded not guilty to the charges and testified that he offered secret material to targets to get them to use an online encryption service created by an allied intelligence agency to spy on adversaries. Prosecutors argued Ortis lacked authority to disclose classified material and was not doing so as part of a sanctioned undercover operation.

The prosecution stated that the Crown would seek a sentence of 20 or more prison years.

Ortis was arrested in 2019, working as director of the RCMP’s national intelligence coordination center in Ottawa, with access to Canada’s Top-Secret Network (CTSN), a computer network used by the federal government to share classified information with America, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (UK).

The RCMP analyzed the contents of a laptop owned by Vincent Ramos, CEO of Phantom Secure Communications, who was arrested in the United States. His company provided criminal organizations with encrypted mobile phones. RCMP investors found emails to Ramos from Ortis, who offered classified information in exchange for around $20,000.

Ortis’s residence was raided, and upon discovery of a laptop at his home, Canadian investigators found 488 secret files, with some having their headers removed and turned into PDF documents that were untraceable and shareable. Canadian officials also found searches for other foreign officials, including Chinese diplomats and embassies.

“Given the nature of the documents, these are no longer organized crime-directed documents. These are all documents related to national security and would only be of interest to a foreign entity,” the prosecution stated.

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has recruited scores of foreign spies to infiltrate Western agencies and support the regime in Tehran by monitoring political dissidents, diplomats, and foreign officials opposed to the Ayatollahs.

Related Story: Biden Admin Investigating Official Accused of Being Iranian Spy After Previously Saying She Was ‘Properly Vetted’

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