07/24/2012 03:55 EDT | Updated 09/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Australia was briefed on Halifax navy espionage case, media reports say

SYDNEY - Australian media reports say that country's high commissioner to Canada was briefed on the case of a Halifax navy officer accused of espionage shortly after his arrest in January.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on its website that the federal government briefed Louise Hand on the case of Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, who is charged with passing information to a foreign entity that could harm Canada's interests.

The newspaper cites information it obtained using Australia's access-to-information laws, saying Hand discussed Delisle's case with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's national security adviser.

But the paper says Hand's cabled report on the briefing, which was sent to Canberra on Jan. 30, was withheld on national security grounds.

It says the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was also briefed on Delisle's case through its counterpart, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

At a funding announcement in Oshawa, Ont., Harper declined comment on the Australian report, saying he doesn't speak about national security matters.

Delisle has yet to enter a plea, but he has elected to be tried by a judge and jury in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

He has been in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Halifax since his arrest on Jan. 14, and a preliminary hearing is set for October.