According to a national security source, the senior RCMP intelligence official was allegedly attempting to scrub the metadata from some police files he had allegedly stolen in order to hide where they came from.
Global News has also learned that some of the computers recovered from his home in Ottawa were RCMP computers, which are encrypted.
Cameron Ortis was arrested earlier this month, with the news causing a stir in the Canadian national security community. He faces seven charges under both the Criminal Code and the Security of Information Act, including breach of trust, communicating “special operational information,” and obtaining information in order to pass it to a “foreign entity.”
Global News has previously reported that the accused intelligence official was uncovered after documents obtained by American authorities led to them tipping off Canadian officials.
Ortis had collected “terabytes of information.”
Global News has previously reported that his arrest was the result of a 2018 international police operation targeting Phantom Secure, an encrypted communication service that sold untraceable smartphones to criminals.
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The 2018 arrest of Phantom Secure’s Canadian CEO Vincent Ramos led law enforcement to sensitive RCMP information that had allegedly been put up for purchase. Canadian law enforcement then examined who had access to the information.
Another source has previously referred to the investigation as “serious spy s—t.”
Federal prosecutors have said Ortis is accused of having “obtained, stored, processed sensitive information we believe with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn’t be communicating it to.”
Ortris was a civilian member of the RCMP’s strategic intelligence unit, with access to a range of operational intelligence, a source has previously said.
According to a source, he had knowledge of every major national security investigation at home and abroad and would have had access to the list of undercover officers operating in Canada and abroad.
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The RCMP have said the charges against Ortis are connected to “activities alleged to have occurred during his tenure as an RCMP employee.”
Global News emailed Ortis’ lawyers for comment but did not hear back. In response to an email from Global News, an RCMP spokesperson said that the investigation is ongoing and that “it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”
Following news of the arrest earlier this month, the RCMP has acknowledged that the investigation raises worries for the Canadian and international security communities.
There are major questions about how Ortis allegedly acquired a massive quantity of information over the years without detection. Multiple sources told Global News that other agencies – in Canada and in allied countries – are questioning the RCMP’s security protocols.
— With files by Sam Cooper, Stewart Bell, Amanda Connolly, Rachel Browne, Maham Abedi