Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Naval officer apologizes to family

Sold top-secret data to Russian agents

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HALIFAX -- Just over a year after his web of deceit unravelled in a drab police office, a Canadian naval officer convicted of selling secrets to Russian agents rose in court and issued a simple, 30-second apology.

Staring at the judge and with his mother sitting behind him, Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle for the first time publicly acknowledged his years of treachery and the emotional toll it took on his family.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my children, my parents and my family," he said in a hushed provincial court in Halifax on Friday, slowing once to contain his emotions.

"I love them very much and I'm sorry for the hurt and the pain that I caused them. It's the same for my friends and my colleagues.

"If I could go back in time I would, but I can't and so thank you."

Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty last October to breach of trust and espionage after he was caught trying to transmit sensitive military information to Russian agents who had been receiving a treasure trove of data from him for almost five years.

Crown attorney Lyne Decarie asked for a sentence of at least 20 years in prison for communicating information to a foreign entity that could harm Canada's interests, and five years for breach of trust. They would be served concurrently.

She left it to the judge's discretion whether to sentence Delisle further for a second count of communicating information to a foreign entity.

The defence is seeking a sentence of about nine to 10 years for all of the offences. Both agreed to a fine of $111,817, which was based on the amount of money Delisle collected from his Russian bosses over the years.

Judge Patrick Curran reserved his decision until next Friday.

Decarie argued that Delisle's actions warranted a stiff sentence because his activities damaged Canada's relations with its allies, endangered intelligence agents and exposed their methods of gathering top-secret material.

Not only did this involve Canadian intelligence, but material shared by the so-called Five Eyes community of Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

"It's a complete disregard -- a complete disregard -- for the safety of these individuals," Decarie said in her closing arguments. "I believe there was very serious harm done to Canada."

Decarie said the father of four blamed others for his troubles, didn't try to protect intelligence sources, volunteered his services rather than being recruited and jeopardized the safety of his loved ones.

"And for what reason? He was going through marital problems. He was upset," Decarie said, adding that many people experience similar problems.

"I'm glad they don't all walk into the Russian Embassy and betray Canada."

Video provided Friday by the Crown showed the moment Delisle cracked under questioning by an RCMP officer in a grey-panelled room on Jan. 13, 2012.

Slumped in a chair and wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and jeans, Delisle finally confesses to Jim Moffatt, who patiently reveals that they have been monitoring his email and have screen grabs showing communications with his Russian agent.

"So you know Jeff, we have you, OK -- you're so caught Jeff, you wouldn't believe it," Moffatt says to him. "There is always a reason why people do a thing they do."

At that point, Delisle crumbles and describes how he felt after discovering that his wife of 19 years cheated on him twice.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2013 A20

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