September 21, 2016 / 1:22 PM / a year ago

Discipline cases in Canada spy agency hit peak in 2015: government data

TORONTO (Reuters) - The number of disciplinary cases in Canada’s main spy agency nearly quadrupled over six years to reach 26 in fiscal 2015, before dropping to 13 the following year, government data showed.

Just fewer than half of the incidents in the year ended on March 31, 2015, appeared to involve security issues, according to Canadian Security Intelligence Service data that Reuters obtained under access-to-information laws.

The data showed just seven disciplinary cases in fiscal 2009.

Canada’s ruling Liberals ran on an election platform last year to increase oversight of the country’s spy agencies and have said they plan to set up a parliamentary committee to do this.

Reuters obtained summaries of the 63 CSIS disciplinary cases in the last three of the government’s fiscal years. The files were redacted to the extent that some details were unclear or unavailable.

For fiscal 2015, at least 12 cases clearly involved security matters.

For the three years as a whole, there were 20. They include removing classified material from premises, bringing home “protected and secret” documents and sending classified information through “unsecure email.”

Another 20 cases involved human-resources issues, such as taking too many breaks, misuse of agency vehicles and taking too many unauthorized sick leaves.

The remaining case summaries were withheld or had nearly all of the information removed.

The CSIS invoked laws that allow withholding of information if releasing it would be “injurious” to international affairs, national defense or prevention of “hostile activities.”

A CSIS spokeswoman declined to provide more details on the cases, citing “national security and privacy,” and said only that the agency had “strict policies” and “strict disciplinary measures.”

“I can assure you that these breaches of policy did not have an operational impact,” she said.

The CSIS did not address follow-up questions on the matter.

Penalties in the incidents included oral reprimands for losing a laptop and “accidentally” removing classified material. In a more serious case, an employee was suspended for 20 days in a matter labeled only “misuse of computer systems - breach of security.”

CSIS also maintains a separate “harassment log” that details matters involving person-to-person interactions. The records showed at least four to six such cases annually over the last three years.

Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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