There’s something rotten in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, an intelligence sharing community that includes the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia. Canada on Friday revealed that it had arrested the former director general of the RCMP’s National Intelligence Coordination Center, one of the country’s top intelligence officials, but Canada wouldn’t say exactly what he had done.
That has allowed unsavory suspicions that he was some how in league with Russian criminals who laundered money through Canada to fester.
All we know is that Cameron Ortis, a director general with the RCMP’s intelligence unit, has been charged under a 2012 security of information law used to prosecute spies. According to Reuters, his arrest on what amounts to charges of leaking secret information could hurt intelligence operations by “allied nations,” the RCMP said on Monday. And that could hurt Canada’s standing inside five-eyes.
Here’s the RCMP’s only comment on the arrest so far:
“We are assessing the impacts of the alleged activities as information becomes available,” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said in a statement. “We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada and abroad and we thank them for their continued collaboration.”
“Mr. Ortis had access to information the Canadian intelligence community possessed,” said Lucki. “He also had access to intelligence coming from our allies both domestically and internationally.”
Creating even more suspense, RCMP Commissioner Lucki told Reuters that the “extremely unsettling” allegations against Ortis have “shaken many people throughout the RCMP.”
Lucki is expected to provide an update on Tuesday.
But this didn’t stop Reuters from quoting Bill Browder, the UK money manager who became a booster for the Russia collusion narrative that afflicted the first two years of the Trump Administration.
Browder said he met Ortis in 2017 twice after requesting the RCMP look into money laundering by Russian criminal groups.
“If he is compromised in any way then it obviously raises questions about whether the investigation we had tried to initiate was compromised,” he said by phone from London, adding that the arrest had been “a complete surprise.”
Has Moscow managed to penetrate five eyes? There’s no evidence of that, at least none that has been shared with the press or the public, but as Reuters makes clear, it shouldn’t be ruled out.