A former Canadian navy officer who pleaded guilty to three espionage-related charges Wednesday was paid $3,000 a month to share classified information with Russia’s intelligence community, court heard.
Between 2007 and 2011, Jeffrey Delisle provided Russia with secrets available to him via his position at a naval intelligence centre in Halifax, according to the Crown.
This information revealed in court hearings was initially protected under a publication ban, intended to protect Delisle in a juried trial. However, Delisle gave up his right to a trial on Wednesday.
Delisle pleaded guilty to three espionage-related charges Wednesday, making him the first person in Canada to enter a plea under the Security of Information Act.
The 41-year-old was facing a breach of trust charge under the Criminal Code and two counts of passing classified information to a foreign entity.
Court heard that Delisle began sharing secrets in August 2007 after he approached officials at the Russian embassy in Ottawa about becoming a spy. After a discussion with Russian intelligence officials, it was decided that Delisle would be an asset to the country.
Delisle began supplying Russia with information he obtained while working out of CFB Stadacona’s Trinity section, CTV News’ Todd Battis told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
Trinity, a naval intelligence centre in Halifax, looks after communications with vessels belonging to Canada and its allies -- including the United States.
Court heard that Delisle had high-level security access at Trinity. It was learned that Delisle would have to clear a screening process before entering a room containing the high-level classified information.
Battis reported that Delisle would use a flash drive to download information he deemed to be of interest to Russia. Court heard that Delisle was paid $3,000 a month to upload the secrets to a website that now appears to be defunct.
The situation escalated when Delisle was invited to Brazil to meet with a fellow spy, court learned. The person he met with offered him $40,000 some-odd dollars to create a spy network.
Canadian customs officials took notice of Delisle when he returned from his trip, Battis reported.
The nature of the information Delisle has pleaded guilty to leaking remains unclear.
“During the police interrogation of him, we heard in court that he told the investigating officer ‘the day that I went into the Russian embassy I stopped being Jeffrey Delisle,’” Battis reported from Halifax.
On Wednesday, Delisle’s lawyer Mike Taylor told a provincial court in Halifax on Wednesday that his client was waiving his right to a trial and pleading guilty to all three charges.
Delisle came to his decision a couple of weeks ago and is “comfortable” with his choice, according to information Taylor relayed to CTV News’ Todd Battis.
“It became, his lawyer tells us, clear as the evidence came in that this would be very hard to defend against,” Battis told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
Delisle’s plea came the same day a preliminary hearing for his trial was expected to begin.
Two of Delisle’s charges -- leaking secrets to a foreign entity -- fall under the Security of Information Act. He is the first person that’s ever been charged under the act, which was passed by the House of Commons after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Delisle was denied bail last March. He’s been in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Halifax since his January arrest.
Delisle joined the navy in 1996 as a reservist, before becoming a member of the regular forces five years later. He eventually rose through the ranks, attaining the title of officer in 2008.
Sentencing is expected to take place over a two-day period, beginning Jan. 10, 2013.