Canada "has allies' confidence" despite spy case

Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:23pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada still enjoys the confidence of its allies despite the arrest of a Canadian naval intelligence officer charged with handing over secrets to an unnamed country, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said on Tuesday.

Jeffrey Paul Delisle faces a charges of giving "a foreign entity" secret information between July 6, 2007 and Jan 13, 2012. He was arrested in Halifax, Nova Scotia and will stay in jail until his next hearing on Jan 25.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. cited military officials as saying Delisle worked for a unit that tracked vessels entering and exiting Canadian waters. It said the unit had access to secret data from NATO countries.

"Let me assure you our allies have full confidence in Canada," MacKay told reporters in Ottawa. He declined to confirm a CTV report which said Delisle had given secrets to Russia.

Delisle -- also suspected of trying to leak information to an unnamed nation as recently as last week -- is the first person charged under a new secrecy law enacted after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

General Walt Natynczyk, Canada's chief of the defense staff, is in Brussels for a meeting of senior military officials but security considerations mean he will not be able to say very much about the Delisle case, a spokesman said.

"It would not be discussed indiscriminately without due regard for the integrity of the investigation here in Canada and the need to continue to maintain intelligence security," said Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phillips.

Canada's Conservative government has had chilly relations with Moscow since it took power in 2006, complaining about "increasingly aggressive Russian actions around the globe".

In 2006, Ottawa said it would deport a man it accused of being a Russian spy and who had lived in Canada under a false identity for more than 10 years.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty)