HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — A Canadian navy intelligence officer who pleaded guilty to selling military secrets to Russia apologized to his family and children for the pain he caused them as his sentencing hearing wrapped up Friday.
Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle pleaded guilty in October to espionage for selling secrets to the Russians.
"I love them very much," Delisle said of his family. "If I could go back in time, I would. But I can't."
Delisle worked at a naval intelligence center and had access to information shared by Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He would search for Russian references on his work computer, transfer it to a USB key, then take home and paste it into an email program that he shared with his Russian handler, the prosecution said.
The judge said he would issue the sentence next Friday.
Prosecutor Lynn Decarie is seeking at least 20 years in prison, saying Delisle's actions warrant a stiff sentence because he abused the trust of his family, colleagues, Canada's allies and "ordinary Canadians."
Decarie said it was impossible to quantify the damage done to Canada and its relationship with its allies, but reiterated testimony from three top military and security officials who alleged that his breaches caused "severe and irreparable" damage. "I believe there was very serious harm done to Canada," she said.
She warned that Delisle's actions might also mean that Canada doesn't receive certain intelligence from allies concerned that their information is not sufficiently protected.
Defense lawyer Mike Taylor argued that Delisle should be given a sentence of nine to 10 years, saying his client was grappling with the collapse of his marriage and was "in a very dark place" when he walked into the Russian Embassy in 2007 and offered his services.
Taylor said it wasn't Delisle's intention to make money off the covert relationship, even though he ended up receiving almost $72,000 over almost five years.
Instead, Delisle became "ensnared" in the relationship and feared retribution if he tried to get out, Taylor said.
Delisle will be the first sentenced under Canada's Security of Information Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
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.
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.