Top Canadian police official arrested on spying charges

Cameron Ortis reportedly had control over counter-intelligence operations

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau makes a policy announcement and holds a media availability at an electric vehicle car dealership during a campaign stop in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
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A senior Canadian intelligence officer has been arrested for allegedly stealing sensitive documents that he intended pass on to foreign entities.

Cameron Ortis faces five charges under Canada's criminal code and its Security of Information Act, the the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

"The allegations are that he obtained, stored, processed sensitive information, we believe with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn't be communicating it to," prosecutor John MacFarlane told reporters after Mr Ortis appeared in court on Friday.

Canada's Global News reported that Mr Ortis, who was arrested on Thursday, was a top adviser to former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson and had control over counter-intelligence operations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is campaigning for a second term in office, told reporters at an election rally "I can assure you that the authorities are taking this extremely seriously", without commenting further.

His opponent, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, said it was "extremely concerning that a senior RCMP intelligence officer has been arrested for leaking national security information".

"This is another reminder of the threats we face from foreign actors," said Mr Scheer, who is tied in the polls with Mr Trudeau.

The RCMP fears Mr Ortis stole "large quantities of information, which could compromise an untold number of investigations", according to Global News, which first reported the arrest.

Canada is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the United States.

The public broadcaster Radio-Canada said Mr Ortis was a specialist in East Asia, critical infrastructure and online "bots".

On the LinkedIn social network, the account of a person named Cameron Ortis indicates that he has worked for the Canadian government since 2007 after receiving a doctorate in international relations and political science at The University of British Columbia.

The account also says he speaks Mandarin, the main language of China, with which Canada is in the midst of an unprecedented diplomatic crisis.

Beijing last December detained two Canadian nationals in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of a Chinese tech executive on a US warrant.

China has also blocked Canadian agricultural shipments worth billions of dollars.