The bombshell moments in Cameron Ortis’s nationwide safety trial, up to now

Crown prosecutors have spent the previous 5 weeks laying out their case towards Cameron Ortis in an unprecedented trial.

They allege he used his place as director of a highly-sensitive unit inside the RCMP to try to promote intelligence gathered by Canada and its 5 Eyes allies to police targets.

Ortis, who has pleaded not responsible to all fees towards him, has additionally began to inform the jury his facet of the story.

His defence workforce says he was performing with authority.

Listed below are among the standout moments within the trial up to now.

Ortis acted on information from a overseas company: defence 

In one of many largest bombshells to land within the case up to now, defence lawyer Mark Ertel informed the jury earlier this week that Ortis protected Canada from “critical and imminent threats” and was performing on info despatched by a overseas company.

Ertel mentioned Ortis not solely acted with authority, however did so to guard Canada.

“His actions had been largely a results of secret info communicated to him by a overseas company,” he mentioned.

“Cameron Ortis is not any enemy of Canada.”

Ertel additionally mentioned Ortis will probably be restricted in what he can share with the court docket as a result of safety issues. He additionally mentioned his shopper would not have entry to his outdated work emails.

“He has one hand tied behind his again,” mentioned Ertel.

RCMP watched suspected ‘brokers’ of money-launderer

The jury has been proven redacted intelligence stories explaining Canada’s function in investigating a multi-billion greenback worldwide cash laundering community.

Round 2015, the 5 Eyes alliance — an intelligence sharing community made up of the U.S., the U.Okay., Canada, Australia and New Zealand — had recognized a typical worldwide risk: Altaf Khanani.

The U.S. authorities says Khanani’s community laundered illicit funds for organized crime and terrorist outfits, together with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

A photograph of a DVD recovered from Salim Henareh which contained FINTRAC paperwork. Based on the agreed assertion of information, he informed police he obtained the package deal in March 2015. (Courtroom exhibit)

Based on intelligence stories entered into proof, the RCMP “recognized quite a lot of Canadian topics that act as brokers of Khanani” within the Toronto space.

The jury has heard that Salim Henareh, Muhammad Ashraf and Farzam Mehdizadeh and their respective firms had been all topics of investigation in Canada. Ortis is accused of sharing operational info with Henareh and Ashraf and of making an attempt to share info with Mehdizadeh.

One report confirmed FINTRAC, Canada’s monetary transactions intelligence company, flagged greater than $3.5 billion in monetary transactions from Henareh’s firm Persepolis to the RCMP.

One other doc considered by the court docket mentioned that over the course of 10 years, Mehdizadeh had been the topic of 48 suspicious transaction stories from monetary establishments associated to varied indicators of cash laundering and terrorist financing.

Certainly one of Ortis’s colleagues, Walter Mendonca, mentioned he believed Mehdizadeh was working with “an important cash launderers on this planet.”

Henareh and Ashraf haven’t been charged. Henareh’s lawyer Barry Fox informed CBC Information the allegations towards his shopper “have been absolutely investigated by the RCMP and he has been fully exonerated.” Ashraf has not responded to CBC’s requests.

Mehdizadeh fled the nation earlier than his anticipated arrest in 2017, in response to the agreed assertion of information in Ortis’s trial.

Ortis allegedly requested for $20,000 

Ortis can be accused of approaching Vincent Ramos with info detailing the RCMP’s curiosity in his firm Phanom Safe, which was promoting encrypted telephones to organized crime.

Emails discovered on Ramos’s gadgets after his arrest in 2018 alerted Mounties that somebody inside the group had despatched him particular operational info. The recovered emails additionally make up a part of the 500-page assertion of information agreed to between the Crown and defence.

“I guarantee you that it is a enterprise proposition. Nothing extra. It isn’t danger free, after all, however the danger to reward ratio will show to be greater than acceptable,” reads one of many emails the Crown alleges Ortis despatched.

The Crown says that, utilizing the e-mail deal with ‘See All Issues,’ Ortis reached out to Ramos on Feb. 5, 2015 and informed him he had details about a multi-agency investigation concentrating on Phantom Safe.

The e-mail sender despatched snippets of FINTRAC stories, a prison intelligence evaluation by the RCMP and a doc summarizing different western intelligence and legislation enforcement info on the corporate.

The jury heard the sender then requested for $20,000 in change for the unredacted paperwork.

Leaked information ‘jeopardizes lives’ 

The jury has heard from a number of RCMP witnesses that the delicate info Ortis is accused of leaking may have jeopardized police investigations and put lives in danger.

One of many emails Ortis is accused of sending to Ramos implies an affiliate of Ramos “met somebody pleasant” whereas present process a secondary border providers company inspection on the Vancouver airport. The jury has heard that particular person was an undercover officer assembly Kapil Choose, who additionally labored at Phantom Safe.

The Crown says different paperwork discovered on Ortis’s gadgets counsel he was getting ready to inform Mehdizadeh to not belief somebody in his group.

Retired assistant commissioner Todd Shean testified that unauthorized disclosure of such info “jeopardizes lives.”

Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer makes her opening statement in the trial of Cameron Ortis on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2023.
Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer makes her opening assertion within the trial of Cameron Ortis on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2023. (Sketch by Lauren Foster-MacLeod)

“You possibly can be signing any person’s demise warrant and I am not making an attempt to overstate it,” he mentioned.

“It’s so reckless that you simply’re placing that individual’s life in danger.”

Who’s Cameron Ortis?

Whereas the trial has targeted largely on what Ortis is accused of doing, the jury additionally has heard one thing in regards to the man on the centre of the case.

Based on his former boss, Ortis was seen as a rising star by the highest brass and was destined to climb the ranks as a civilian member of the RCMP.

“I am not going to lie, I used to be a fan of Cam,” mentioned Shean.

“Cam is among the smartest individuals I’ve ever met.”

Shean mentioned Ortis oversaw an “extraordinary” workforce at operations analysis, which gave “meticulous” briefings. Shean urged different items in RCMP nationwide safety didn’t met the identical customary.

Dan Morris, who served as Ortis’s second in command within the OR, mentioned his boss was an clever, detail-oriented one who usually saved lengthy hours. Morris mentioned Ortis tended to work alone and infrequently bought concerned within the particulars of his workforce’s intelligence initiatives.

WATCH | Former RCMP director was making an attempt to promote secrets and techniques to police targets, Crown alleges

Former RCMP director was making an attempt to promote secrets and techniques to police targets, Crown alleges

Featured VideoCameron Ortis, the previous RCMP intelligence official accused of breaking Canada’s secret intelligence legislation, was making an attempt to promote RCMP operational info to criminals — together with targets of police investigations — the Crown workforce alleged in its opening remarks at Ortis’s trial Tuesday. The defence mentioned Ortis had the authority to do every part he did.

Morris additionally mentioned Ortis had a pleasant relationship with the highest Mountie of the day, then-commissioner Bob Paulson.

The Crown requested Ortis’s colleagues about his operating habits.

“At one level, he informed me that he ran about 14 kilometres a day, and that he would do that for about 14 days straight, and take someday off of operating,” mentioned Morris.

One other colleague from the OR, Greg O’Hayon, mentioned he remembers “being amazed on the pace.”

‘I am sick to my abdomen’

A number of the most emotional moments within the trial up to now got here from Ortis’s former boss, Shean, after the Crown confirmed him the emails Ortis is accused of sending to the investigative targets.

“I am sick to my abdomen by what I see right here,” he mentioned earlier this week.

“I am shaking as a result of it is simply the irreparable hurt that I count on this has achieved to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”

Deputy Commissioner Todd Shean says it's early but they're already seeing results from the new crime reduction units.
Retired assistant commissioner Todd Shean mentioned the unauthorized disclosure of operational info can put lives in danger. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Shean mentioned he would usually meet with Ortis, generally over a beer, to debate work.

His voice shaking with emotion, Shean repeatedly informed the jury he wouldn’t have agreed to Ortis sending particular operational info to individuals police had been making an attempt to keep watch over.

“So prison, so reckless,” he mentioned.

Canada was underneath ‘strain’ from 5 Eye allies

The case has additionally pulled again the curtain — barely — on Canada’s place within the 5 Eyes alliance round 2015.

Based on retired RCMP employees sergeant Man Belley’s testimony final month, Canada’s allies had been upset that Canadian police had been unable to cease firms from promoting encrypted telephones to transnational organized crime operations.

The RCMP was making an attempt to go after Canadian firm Phantom Safe as a part of an investigation dubbed “Challenge Saturation.” 

Belley mentioned the RCMP was underneath “worldwide strain”  to take motion. 

A bald man sitting in a police cruiser with the rear passenger door open.
A picture from physique cam video of Vincent Ramos’s arrest by Bellingham Police on March 7, 2018. (Bellingham Police Division)

“It was well-known, clearly, that our 5 Eyes companions and perhaps different companions had been very upset that Canada was not capable of make extra progress in Challenge Saturation,” mentioned Ertel.

“I believe it is a truthful evaluation,” Belley replied.

Shean additionally testified Canada’s lack of ability to crack down on encryption was an “embarrassment for us.”

Ortis has began to testify behind closed doorways. Redacted transcripts of his testimony are anticipated to be made public subsequent week.

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