OTTAWA -- A Crown prosecutor says Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's motive for allegedly leaking government secrets to a Quebec shipyard and the media doesn't matter because doing so to unduly influence the federal cabinet would have been illegal.

The comments by Crown attorney Mark Covan came on the third day of a pre-trial hearing as the prosecution fights to prevent the release of thousands of government documents that Norman's lawyers have asked to see.

Most of the documents relate to a $700-million contract to refit a civilian container ship into a support vessel for the navy that was negotiated by the Harper Conservatives and finalized by the Trudeau Liberals in 2015.

Norman's lawyers argue access to the documents would help provide the full context for the former navy commander's actions and show what else was happening around the project.

But Covan says even if Norman truly believed the contract was best for the navy and Canada, that doesn't mean he was allowed to release confidential information to influence cabinet's decision on the matter.

Norman was suspended as the military's second-in-command in January 2017 and charged this past March with one count of breach of trust. He has denied any wrongdoing and his trial is scheduled to start in August.