A shadowy Canadian company that sold encrypted mobile phones to criminals set off a chain reaction that led to the arrest of a Canadian security officer in possession of highly-classified documents, reports revealed Tuesday.
Investigation of Cameron Ortis, a top Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) official who was arrested Sept. 13, began when an FBI investigation in 2018 found he had contacted Vincent Ramos, a key figure behind Phantom Secure Communications.
The company specialized in selling encrypted mobile phones so that international criminal organizations could skirt police.
Canadian officials said Ortis offered to sell Ramos “valuable information.”
Ramos was sentenced in May to nine years in prison in the United States.
Further investigation led to Ortis, who was arrested with classified material that the RCMP said he planned to offer to a foreign country or terrorist group.
The material was so sensitive that a review of the documents led the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to say that if the material had passed into other hands, it would have caused a “HIGH” degree of damage not just to Canada, but also its allies.
“This type of information is among the most highly protected of national security assets, by any government standard and goes to the heart of Canada’s sovereignty and security,” the assessment reads. “CSE’s preliminary assessment is that damage caused by the release of these reports and intelligence is HIGH (sic) and potentially devastating in that it would cause grave injury to Canada’s national interests.”
Ortis, who is charged with the portion of a security act that deals with individuals who are “permanently bound to secrecy,” appeared in court briefly last Friday and is being held pending a bail hearing Sept. 20.
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