Canadian Officer Gets 20 Years for Spying for Russia

Delisle hiding his face as he leaves court in Halifax after being sentenced. Devaan Ingraham

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — A Canadian navy intelligence officer who pleaded guilty to selling military secrets to Russia was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Paul Delisle will serve 18 years and five months behind bars because of time served, Provincial Court Judge Patrick Curran said. Curran also ordered Delisle to pay a fine of nearly $111,817 Canadian ($111,700).

Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty in October to espionage for selling secrets to the Russians. He worked at a naval intelligence center and had access to information shared by Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The prosecution said he would search for Russian references on his work computer, transfer the information to a USB key, then take it home and paste it into an e-mail program that he shared with his Russian handler.

In a statement of facts, Delisle said his treachery began when he walked into the Russian Embassy in Ottawa in July 2007 and offered his services for money.

For years, Delisle funneled classified information to the Russians for monthly payments of about $3,000.

Prosecutors said Delisle came under suspicion in September 2011 after returning to the country from Brazil, where he met a Russian agent named Viktor, who told him that his role would change so that he would become a "pigeon," or liaison for all Russian agents in Canada.

Alarms were raised in the Canada Border Services Agency because he had no tan, little awareness of the tourist sites in Rio de Janeiro, three prepaid credit cards, thousands of dollars in U.S. currency and a handwritten note with an e-mail address, she said.

Authorities intercepted two messages in January 2012 that Delisle tried to pass on to the Russians, and he was arrested shortly after.

But the defense said Delisle's harm is "theoretical" because it's unknown what secrets he leaked, adding that he was ensnared in the arrangement with the Russians and feared retribution if he tried to get out.

Related articles:

Read more