'I'm sorry,' Canadian navy spy tells family before sentencing
The Canadian navy officer who sold secret intelligence to Russia stood up in court Friday and apologized for betraying his country.
With his mother sitting behind him, Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle apologized to his children and parents, saying he loved them “very much.”
“I’m sorry for the hurt and the pain that I caused them,” he said in a provincial court in Halifax. “It’s the same for my friends and colleagues.”
“If I could go back in time I would, but I can’t and so thank you.”
Delisle pleaded guilty in October to breach of trust and passing information to a foreign entity that could harm Canada’s interests. The 41-year-old transmitted sensitive data to Russian agents for about five years before he was arrested in early 2012.
After a two-day sentencing hearing, Crown attorney Lyne Decarie asked the judge to sentence Delisle to at least 20 years in prison for giving information to a foreign identity and five years for breach of trust.
She said a lengthy sentence is warranted because the Crown believes “there was very serious harm done to Canada.”
Decarie said Delisle’s actions also jeopardized the security of Canada’s allies and intelligence partners: Great Britain, United States, New Zealand and Australia.
The defence is seeking a much lower sentence – nine or 10 years in total.
“I think 20 (years) is on the extreme high side that isn’t really justified by the cases that are presented,” defence lawyer Mike Taylor told reporters outside court.
Judge Patrick Curran reserved his decision until Feb.8.
When Delisle was arrested, he told RCMP investigators that he was having emotional and martial problems when he walked into the Russian Embassy in Ottawa in 2007 and offered his espionage services.
In an interrogation video shown in court Friday, Delisle tells an RCMP officer that he was devastated by his wife’s infidelity.
"I am so dead. I ... my wife, that I loved for so long, killed me ... killed me," he said. "And the pain of her betrayal and the pain she put my children through killed me."
Delisle said he contemplated suicide, but couldn’t go through with it because of his four children. He said he opted for “professional suicide” instead.
Court heard that Russian agents paid Delisle nearly $72,000 between 2007 and 2011 for the information he gave them.
He also received $40,000 when he visited a Russian named Victor in Brazil in 2011, just before he became the target of an investigation that led to his arrest.
While working at HMCS Trinity in Halifax, the navy's intelligence and communications centre, Delisle mined government computers for references to Russia and transferred the data onto floppy disks and memory sticks.
He then copied the information into an email account he shared with a Russian agent.
After Delisle’s arrest, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the spy’s leaks did not damage Canada’s relations with its allies.
But Brig.-Gen. Rob Williams, director general of military signals intelligence, testified Thursday that Delisle caused "exceptionally grave damage."
Meanwhile, a director with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said the agency is still assessing the scope of the potential fallout.
In an interview with CTV’s Power Play, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov, downplayed the international impact of the espionage case.
“No disrespect, but I said it before – I don’t believe there’s too much to be spied out of Canada,” Mamedov said. “There’s some other places that really interest us, that represent a threat to our security like Afghanistan, Mali, Algeria, the Middle East…Pakistan.”
Delisle is the first person to be sentenced under Canada's Security of Information Act, introduced after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.
With a report from CTV Atlantic and files from The Canadian Press