- Associated Press - Friday, February 8, 2013

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — A Canadian navy intelligence officer who pleaded guilty to selling military secrets to Russia was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle will serve 18 years and five months behind bars because of time he has already served, Provincial court Judge Patrick Curran said. Curran also ordered Delisle to pay a fine of nearly CA$111,817 ($111,700).

Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty in October to espionage for selling secrets to the Russians. He worked at a naval intelligence center and had access to information shared by Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The prosecution said he would search for Russian references on his work computer, transfer it to a USB key, then take it home and paste it into an email program that he shared with his Russian handler.

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.

Judge Curran said Friday that Delisle “coldly and rationally” offered his services to Russia.

Delisle was arrested in January 2012 — the first person to be charged under Canada’s Security of Information Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

During his sentencing hearing last week, Delisle apologized to his family, friends and colleagues for the hurt his actions caused them.

For years, Delisle funneled classified information to the Russians for monthly payments of about $3,000.

Prosecutors said Delisle came under suspicion after returning to the country in September 2011 from Brazil, where he met a Russian agent named Victor who told him that his role would change so 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, she said.

Authorities intercepted two messages in January 2012 that Delisle tried to pass on to the Russians, and he was arrested shortly after.

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 prosecution argued that Delisle damaged Canada’s relations with its allies, endangered intelligence agents and exposed their methods of gathering top-secret material.

But the defense 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. He was charged last January.