HALIFAX – Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, the Halifax navy intelligence officer who sold secrets to Russia, has been given a 20-year prison sentence.
But the judge presiding over the case says Delisle will serve 18 years and five months behind bars because of time he has already served.
Provincial court Judge Patrick Curran said Friday that Delisle “coldly and rationally” offered his services to Russia.
Delisle pleaded guilty last year to breach of trust and communicating information that could harm Canada’s interests to a foreign entity.
The Crown sought a prison sentence of at least 20 years, while the defence asked for nine to 10 years.
Delisle, 41, was arrested in January 2012 and became the first person to be charged under the Security of Information Act. That law was passed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
During his sentencing hearing last week in provincial court, Delisle apologized to his family, friends and colleagues for his actions, saying he was sorry for the hurt he caused them.
In an agreed statement of facts, Delisle admitted that his treachery began when he walked into the Russian embassy in Ottawa in July 2007 and offered his services for money.
For years, he funnelled classified information to the Russians for monthly payments of about $3,000.
The naval threat assessment analyst said he used floppy discs and memory sticks to smuggle information out of Halifax’s HMCS Trinity, the military all-source intelligence centre on the East Coast.
He then took the information home and copied it into an email address that he shared with his Russian agent so he never had to send the email.
But he came under suspicion after returning in September 2011 from a trip to Brazil, where he met a Russian agent named Victor who told him that he would become a “pigeon” or liaison for all Russian agents in Canada.
Alarms were raised within the Canada Border Services Agency because he had no tan, little awareness of the tourist sites in Rio de Janeiro, three prepaid credit cards, thousands of dollars in U.S. currency and a handwritten note with an email address, the court heard.
Authorities intercepted two messages in January 2012 that Delisle tried to pass on to the Russians, and he was arrested shortly later.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has said that Delisle’s crimes could mean it receives less intelligence from allies in the future and it is still assessing the fallout of his actions.
The Crown argued that Delisle damaged Canada’s relations with its allies, endangered intelligence agents and exposed their methods of gathering top-secret material.
But the defence said Delisle’s harm is “theoretical” because it isn’t exactly known what secrets he leaked, adding that he was ensnared in the arrangement with the Russians and feared retribution if he tried to get out.
Delisle joined the navy as a reservist in 1996, became a member of the regular forces in 2001 and was promoted to an officer rank in 2008.