The fate of former RCMP agent Cameron Ortiz, accused of leaking information to police targets, is now in the hands of a jury.
The 12 jurors were sequestered Monday after about three hours of instructions from Judge Robert Marenger. A verdict could take hours or days.
Ortiz, a former civilian member of the RCMP, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario Superior Court to six charges, including several under the Information Security Act, a law designed to protect Canadian secrets.
The trial, now in its eighth week, has heard from nearly a dozen witnesses, including the defendant, and received more than 500 pages of evidence.
The Crown alleges Ortiz used his position within the RCMP – leading a unit with access to Canadian and allied information – to leak sensitive information to police targets in early 2015.
During his trial, Ortiz claimed he was acting to protect Canada from a “grave threat” posed by foreign companies.
Wesley Wolk, a senior fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, said jurors had a “very tough” job ahead of them.
“This is the first time in Canada that a jury has assembled to observe a secret trial, an espionage trial,” he said.
“The jury has heard that the world of intelligence, the world of RCMP operations, five eyes …They would have to decide that this evidence beyond a reasonable doubt…”
Crown: “Ortiz is unbelievable”
Ortiz was arrested by Phantom Secure CEO Vincent Ramos, who sold encrypted cell phones to organized crime members, and police officer Salim Ramos, who is suspected of being an agent of an international money laundering network. Henare and Muhammad Ashraf are accused of leaking special business information “without authority.” Terrorist connections.
The Crown alleges that in an email to Ramos, Ortiz demanded $20,000 from Ramos in exchange for information about police operations.
The 51-year-old is also suspected of trying to leak information to Farzam Mehdzadeh. One RCMP witness said at Ortiz’s trial that he believed Mehdizadeh was working with “the most important money launderer in the world.”
In closing arguments last week, prosecutor Judy Kriewer said Ortiz’s account had “no grain of truth” and was unbelievable.
She reminded the jury that the Crown did not need to prove the “why” of the incident, only the “what.”
“Was there a profit motive? Probably. That’s not something the Crown has to prove,” she told jurors.
“All you have to determine is whether he communicated without authority.”
Ortiz says he was working on a covert operation
During four days of in-camera testimony earlier this month, Ortiz claimed he was actually working on a covert operation based on information from foreign agencies.
Ortiz testified that the alleged operation, which he called “OR Nudge,” was intended to lure criminals into encrypted email services so authorities could intercept their messages. Outside court, the email service blasted Ortiz’s claims as “completely false” and “despicable.”
Ortiz, who is permanently bound to secrecy, said he did not implicate anyone else in the RCMP about his plans because his foreign counterparts shared the information on the condition that it remain private.
He also testified that the police targets included moles within Canadian law enforcement agencies.
His defense said he was prohibited from identifying the anonymous foreign entity or describing the threat.
ortiz trial This is the first accusation under the Information Security Act. It has been tested in court.