NEWS

Ex-naval officer says spying scandal bound to happen

01/25/2012 07:57 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT

A retired naval intelligence officer says he was "shocked but not surprised" about a spying scandal that involves a junior naval officer from Nova Scotia.

"I'm shocked but not surprised," said Hugh Williamson, a former lieutenant commander with the Royal Canadian Navy.

"You're shocked at the individual details but you're not surprised that something was eventually going to happen."

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle, who lives in the Bedford area of Halifax, was charged earlier this month with two counts of breaching the Security of Information Act by allegedly passing secrets to a foreign entity.

The charges against Delisle, 40, deal with communicating information that could harm Canada's interests.

The RCMP said it was the first time someone had been charged under that section of the Security of Information Act, which was introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S.

The alleged incidents occurred between July 2007 and Jan. 10 or 13, 2011, in Ottawa and Kingston, Ont., and Halifax and Bedford, N.S.

HMCS Trinity staff relocated since arrest

In August, Delisle was posted to HMCS Trinity, a highly secure naval intelligence centre within Canadian Forces Base Stadacona in Halifax that is home to the navy's information-gathering effort.

A handful of staff at HMCS Trinity have been relocated to 12 Wing Shearwater since Delisle's arrest as a "security precaution," according to the Defence Department.

"If they discover that there's a bug at Trinity, that somehow there's been a breach of integrity of the system, then they have a real problem," said Williamson.

"Then, they would have to look at all the possible systems in Trinity, even the ones that [Delisle] might not have physically had access to."

Williamson said it could take months to find out what may have been compromised, and perhaps years to repair any damage.

"You immediately go in damage control mode. You have to, because if you don't know what's been revealed, you have to assume that there's been a fairly wide compromise," he said.

Delisle's next court appearance is Feb. 28, when a date for a bail hearing is expected to be set.

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