By CNN's Paula Newton
Canadian police have charged a naval intelligence officer with leaking government secrets to "a foreign entity," the first time such charges have been laid under a secrecy law passed in Canada after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle is charged with breach of trust and communicating safeguarded information to "a foreign entity" without lawful authority, police said. Delisle is set to appear in a Halifax, Nova Scotia, courtroom for a bail hearing on January 25. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In a statement released to CNN, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson wrote, "Notwithstanding the seriousness of these charges, the RCMP is not aware of any threat to public safety at this time from this situation. This investigation demonstrates that Canada is not immune to threats posed by foreign entities wishing to undermine Canadian sovereignty."
Delisle, 40, has extensive experience working at the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Trinity center in Halifax, police said. The facility receives and analyzes information on warships. This information is often shared with allies, including the United States.
"Let me assure you our allies have full confidence in Canada," Defense Minister Peter MacKay told reporters in Ottawa.
He refused to confirm reports that Russia was on the receiving end of any of the secret information the naval officer is accused of passing on.
"I am not going to play Clue," he said.
However, CTV News in Canada is reporting that Russia was indeed the alleged recipient of the sensitive information over a period of a few years. CTV reported that the information could have included reports on allies including the United States.
CNN's Security Clearance examines national and global security, terrorism and intelligence, as well as the economic, military, political and diplomatic effects of it around the globe, with contributions from CNN's national security team in Washington and CNN journalists around the world.