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RCMP intelligence head charged over leaks had ‘carte blanche’ from top brass, trial hears

Cameron Ortis is going through six fees for allegedly ‘deliberately and with out authority’ sharing or making an attempt to share ‘particular operational info’ to 4 people in 2015

OTTAWA — A senior RCMP officer stated Cameron Ortis had “carte blanche” as head of an intelligence unit on the nationwide police pressure and that even senior administration didn’t know all the pieces Ortis’ group was doing.

That’s based on excerpts of an announcement from RCMP Supt. Marie-Claude Arsenault that had been learn in courtroom by defence lawyer Mark Ertel throughout Ortis’ trial Friday. Arsenault’s assertion was not tabled as proof or made obtainable to the general public in its entirety, nor has she testified on the trial.

However when her assertion was put to her former boss retired Chief Supt. Warren Coons, Friday morning’s witness, he strongly denied that Ortis had free rein on the RCMP.

“No one within the RCMP has carte blanche,” Coons informed the courtroom. “I don’t agree that anyone within the RCMP was given carte blanche to do something associated to felony investigations. That’s not how we function, that’s not the tradition of the RCMP.”

Ortis, the RCMP’s former director basic of intelligence, is going through six fees, together with 4 underneath the Safety of Data Act (SOIA) for allegedly “deliberately and with out authority” sharing or making an attempt to share “particular operational info” to 4 people in 2015.

He pleaded not responsible to all fees final week and his attorneys have stated they intend to argue that Ortis had full authority to do all the pieces he did.

Coons was the director of the RCMP’s Nationwide Intelligence Coordination Centre (NICC) on the identical time Ortis headed the pressure’s Operations Analysis (OR) department, a singular unit that had entry not solely to RCMP intelligence but additionally that of Canadian and 5 Eyes ally intelligence businesses.

He testified Friday that whereas he headed NICC and Ortis ran OR, the 2 intelligence teams inside the RCMP didn’t have a “sturdy relationship”. He didn’t agree with an announcement learn by Ertel from one other former NICC worker that there was an “adversarial” relationship between the 2 however admitted it “wasn’t sturdy.”

In accordance with one other assertion by Arseneault learn in courtroom by defence lawyer Ertel, Coons had privately expressed considerations that Ortis’ Operations Analysis group was “actually secretive” and “borderline improper.”

Arsenault was Coons’ direct subordinate on the NIIC till his retirement in 2016. In 2021, Arsenault joined a lawsuit alleging RCMP high brass shielded Ortis from a number of office complaints. She alleged on the time he was making an attempt to “intentionally sabotage” the pressure’s intelligence.

Coons didn’t verify Arsenault’s assertion learn in courtroom however stated Ortis and him had their variations.

“There was all the time a dialogue and uncertainty, and nonetheless to this present day rests in my thoughts uncertainty, in regards to the skill of legislation enforcement to make use of intelligence info in felony investigations, and the way fluid that transition could possibly be,” he informed the courtroom. On the time, “I questioned whether or not or not that might really occur.”

“I do know that there have been differing views and I had a special view actually than Mr. Ortis,” he stated.

Ortis is predicted to testify in his personal defence later this month.

Coons’ testimony shed gentle onto inner energy struggles not solely between intelligence models inside then nationwide police pressure however between the RCMP and the Canadian Safety Intelligence Service (CSIS) within the years main as much as his retirement in 2016.

Shortly after the capturing on Parliament Hill in 2014, the then Conservative authorities introduced it could be legislating a brand new “disruption” energy that will permit the nation’s safety equipment to behave in opposition to people or organizations who had been a risk to Canada.

Ertel requested Coons if he knew there was “just a little little bit of an institutional turf battle” between the RCMP and CSIS over “who ought to have that disruption energy?”

Coons agreed that each establishments believed they had been the perfect one to make use of the brand new disruption powers.

In the end, CSIS was granted the disruption powers.

Ortis is charged with leaking or trying to share extremely delicate intelligence about ongoing police investigations to 4 suspected criminals. RCMP investigators have testified at his trial that a few of that info “burned” an undercover informant and will have jeopardized a number of worldwide probes.

Three of these people, Salim Henareh, Muhammad Ashraf and Farzam Mehdizadeh, ran money-service companies within the Higher Toronto Space and had been suspected on the time by the RCMP and worldwide companions of being “low-level” individuals in a world cash laundering community operated by Altaf Khanani.

In accordance with a 2015 U.S. Treasury Division report, Khanani’s community laundered billions of {dollars} on behalf of drug traffickers and terrorist organizations resembling Hezbollah, the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Prosecutors additionally allege Ortis leaked paperwork to B.C. businessman Vincent Ramos, the proprietor of Phantom Safe, which offered hyper encrypted cellphones to organized crime teams.

An nameless electronic mail prosecutors say Ortis despatched Ramos promised $20,000 in change for full copies of categorized paperwork detailing the investigation into Phantom Safe. Up to now, not less than two present or former RCMP investigators have testified that they didn’t uncover any proof Ortis obtained the $20,000.

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