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Police arrest Toronto man on suspicion of spying for P.R. China

The Bread Guy

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A reminder:  none of this has been proven in court at this point.
From MSM:
Canadian police have arrested a Toronto man suspected of seeking to give China classified information about Canadian shipbuilding procurement policies, security officials said on Sunday.

Jennifer Strachan, a chief superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told a news conference that Canadian citizen Qing Quentin Huang, 53, faced two charges of attempting to communicate with a foreign entity.

"On Thursday the RCMP was informed that the accused was taking steps to pass on information of a classified nature to China," she told a rare weekend news conference.

"In these types of cases, sharing of information may give a foreign entity a tactical, military or competitive advantage by knowing the specifications of vessels responsible for defending Canadian waters and Canadian sovereignty."

Strachan said Huang, who was arrested on Saturday, had worked for a subcontractor involved in ship design. She declined to say what information Huang had tried to provide to China, but said there was no threat to public safety ....

From the Mounties:
This morning, the RCMP along with partners from the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police detailed circumstances that led to the arrest of 53 year old Qing Quentin Huang of Toronto.  Mr. Huang has been charged under the Security of Information Act with two counts of attempt to communicate to a foreign entity information that the Government of Canada is taking measures to safeguard.

On Thursday, November 28, 2013, the RCMP was informed that Mr Huang was taking steps to pass sensitive information to authorities from the People’s Republic of China.  The information relates to certain elements of the Government of Canada National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy which includes patrol ships, frigates, naval auxiliary vessels, science research vessels and ice breakers.  “In these types of cases, sharing of information may give a foreign entity a tactical, military or competitive advantage by knowing the specifications of vessels responsible for defending Canadian waters and Canadian sovereignty,” stated RCMP Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan, the Criminal Operations Officer for the Province of Ontario.

From the moment the RCMP was informed of the criminal nature of the actions, it initiated a Criminal Investigation dubbed Project Seascape.  “National Security Investigations are complex and this one was no different,” added RCMP Chief Superintendent Larry Tremblay, Director General of the RCMP’s Federal Policing Criminal Operations in Ottawa.  “It is important to understand that there is more to National Security than focusing solely on terrorism.  It’s about protecting Canadian interests and taking the steps we need to take to protect our sovereignty.”

The RCMP and its partners take all threats to National Security and our sovereignty seriously. Indeed, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service provided excellent cooperation in this investigation ....
 

George Wallace

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This type of Industrial Espionage has done in just one of two too many Canadian companies, not to mention the National Security concerns.
 

MilEME09

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Apparently he walked into the Chinese embassy in Ottawa on Thursday and offered to sell the data
 

marinemech

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Don't people/family members who have access to this type of data, have to pass a DND security screening?
 

ModlrMike

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Apparently it's Harper's fault; a Conservative false flag operation; and we don't need ships anyways.  :facepalm:

CBC.ca
 

The Bread Guy

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A bump with the latest ...
A naval engineer accused of trying to spy for Beijing is asking a federal judge for full access to information about Canadian Security Intelligence Service wiretaps of the Chinese Embassy.

Qing Quentin Huang says federal secrecy has placed him in an "impossible position" as he prepares to defend against espionage charges.

The Canadian citizen was arrested on Dec. 1, 2013, in Burlington, Ont., following a brief RCMP-led investigation dubbed Project Seascape.

Huang, 53 at the time, worked for Lloyd's Register, a subcontractor to Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

He was charged under the Security of Information Act with attempting to communicate secret information to a foreign power. Police said the information related to elements of the federal shipbuilding strategy, which includes patrol ships, frigates, naval auxiliary vessels, science research vessels and icebreakers.

In documents filed with the Federal Court of Canada, Huang and his counsel say CSIS received a court-approved warrant in March 2013 to intercept telecommunications at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.

On Nov. 27, 2013, CSIS sent a letter to the RCMP advising the national police force of phone calls Huang allegedly made to the embassy two days earlier offering sensitive information.

The federal prosecution service wants to introduce transcripts of the calls into evidence at the applicant's criminal trial in Ontario Superior Court.

As a result, the prosecution service disclosed to Huang redacted copies of the CSIS warrant and the CSIS affidavit sworn in support of the application to obtain the warrant. 

However, Huang's court submission says, the warrant and the affidavit are so heavily censored that he cannot test the validity of the warrant or make full answer and defence.

"The warrant and affidavit, as redacted, put Mr. Huang in an impossible position," says the filing.

"Without the redacted information, he cannot investigate or challenge the lawfulness of the interception of private communications that form the basis for his criminal charges." ...
 

The Bread Guy

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Another bump with the latest:  2 x charges stayed ....
Prosecutors stay charges against Qing Quentin Huang in probe of naval leaks to China
Colin Freeze, Globe & Mail, 18 Sept 2020

Federal prosecutors have stayed two of four criminal charges against an engineer accused of offering secrets about the Royal Canadian Navy to China.

Qing Quentin Huang worked for a military contractor that was designing Canadian Forces vessels at the time of his Nov. 30, 2013, arrest in Burlington, Ont.

He was initially charged with four counts of violating the Security of Information Act for attempting and preparing "to communicate to a foreign entity information that the Government of Canada was taking measures to safeguard.”

Mr. Huang still faces trial on two criminal counts relating to conversations he allegedly had with undercover RCMP officers in a sting operation. But prosecutors this month stayed the other two, which arose from a Canadian Security Intelligence Service wiretapping campaign against the Chinese embassy in Ottawa.

Information about the wiretapping of any foreign embassy is a subject of enormous sensitivity for any government.

Judges at various courts have spent years weighing government arguments for state secrecy against Mr. Huang’s right to see evidence against him. He has been fighting for access to documents so he can challenge the wiretaps. Last year, Attorney-General David Lametti made an unprecedented legal intervention to block disclosures to Mr. Huang.

Observers say it is not surprising that the Crown has now decided to cut back its case. “It was fairly clear that proceeding with the charges stemming directly from the wiretap were going to be extremely challenging,” said Leah West, a former Justice Department lawyer who lectures on national security law at Carleton University.

On Nov. 25, 2013, Mr. Huang was alleged to have made two phone calls to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa "during which he told the embassy staff that he was willing to disclose confidential military information to the Chinese government,” according to a past judicial order in the case.

Prosecutors stayed the charges on Sept. 9. “I can indicate that the concern is with the effect on the overall prosecution of the additional time required to deal with issues particular to these counts,” Crown lawyer Howard Piafsky said in an e-mail to The Globe.

He added that “the Crown is ready to proceed with the other two counts on the indictment and would like to set dates for trial.” ...
More at link, or in attached in case link doesn't work (shared under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Canada's Copyright Act)
 

The Bread Guy

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More on this case, now that the appeal window seems closed ...
“I’m willing to be of paramount service to the Chinese government,” disgruntled naval engineer Qing Quentin Huang said during one of two calls to the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, unaware the line had been wiretapped by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Those phone calls in November 2013 led the RCMP to arrest Huang in Burlington, Ont., for allegedly attempting to spy for China. At the time, the Mounties told the public his actions were “a threat to Canada.”

Huang, who was living in Waterdown, Ont., near Hamilton, was accused of attempting to pass on sensitive details involving Canada’s shipbuilding strategy. If successful, his alleged plot could have given foreign entities an unfair military, economic and competitive advantage, the RCMP said at the time.

Last month, after eight years of courtroom wrangling over the disclosure of classified information — and on the eve of a three-week jury trial in January — a Toronto judge halted the prosecution. Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot agreed with defence lawyers Frank Addario and Samara Secter that Huang’s constitutional rights to a trial within a reasonable time had been breached.

On Wednesday, at the end of a 30-day deadline for filing a notice of appeal, prosecutors confirmed they will not seek to overturn Dambrot’s decision staying Huang’s charges ...
 

The Bread Guy

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Hmmm, wonder if it's justified to consider charging the Federal Prosecutors with dereliction of duty or something similar.
Well, if it was their fault alone that things dragged out as long as it did, maaaaaybe.

Haven't followed the case in detail, but I suspect a lot of different players & processes made things take longer than if it was a case not involving intelligence-derived evidence.
 

lenaitch

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Our criminal justice system is not well geared (to be generous) for dealing with prosecutions that rely on security intelligence derived evidence.
 

MilEME09

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So a spy went free? Maybe that's a good thing, CSIS can just track him and potentially manipulate false information to China. This dies highlight major problems in our system though
 

ModlrMike

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Our criminal justice system is not well geared (to be generous) for dealing with prosecutions that rely on security intelligence derived evidence.
As someone in the comments section proposed, maybe it's time to form a special section of the court that can deal with security sensitive evidence.
 

Kat Stevens

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It's time we stopped using the term "criminal justice", it doesn't apply. Criminal law, I'd buy, but justice and the law have very little to do with each other.
 

Fishbone Jones

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I'm surprised the government hasn't slapped a security classification on it and made the whole thing secret from everyone. Like they have with most other ChiCom breeches of our security.
 

lenaitch

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As someone in the comments section proposed, maybe it's time to form a special section of the court that can deal with security sensitive evidence.
They would have to craft a system that satisfies the Charter.
I'm surprised the government hasn't slapped a security classification on it and made the whole thing secret from everyone. Like they have with most other ChiCom breeches of our security.
[/QUOTE]
From what I understand, this fellow was a Canadian citizen, so I'm not sure the existing security certificate process would apply, although I'm not fully conversant with it.
 

brihard

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I cna probably shed some light on how and why this went the way it did. I've read through the various past decisions on this one and have been following it, not super closely of late, but I was keeping an eye because it's a very interesting case. This was only, to the best of my knowledge, the second criminal case that went to trial under the Security of Information Act - the first being Jeffrey Delisle.

Hmmm, wonder if it's justified to consider charging the Federal Prosecutors with dereliction of duty or something similar.

No, far from it. The system wasn't set up to succeed on this, for reasons I'll explain.

I'm surprised the government hasn't slapped a security classification on it and made the whole thing secret from everyone. Like they have with most other ChiCom breeches of our security.

Principle of open courts. Once something is going through prosecution, though there are limited provisions for publication bans, most info has to be public, with some exceptions that I'll explain.

As someone in the comments section proposed, maybe it's time to form a special section of the court that can deal with security sensitive evidence.

There's a system and process for this. It ain't pretty.

In a nutshell, what has happened here is that the Jordan Supreme Court decision has crashed into S.38 of the Canada Evidence Act. Jordan was the decision that established time limits beyond which a delay is presumptively unreasonable. A trial in provincial court has 18 months from when charges are laid to be concluded in court. A prosecution in provincial superior court has 30 months. There are allowances for delays caused by defense, for exigent circumstances - but the underlying principle is that there must be justice without unreasonable delay.

The Canada Evidence Act is the law that governs how evidence works in judicial proceedings. It includes sections that allow for certain privileges to be maintained- section 37, for instance, allows for certain sensitive police techniques, undercover operations, etc. Section 39 establishes cabinet confidence. Section 38 deals with information that is privileged for reasons of national security or international relations, such as domestic intelligence information, intelligence information shared by foreign partner agencies, etc.

There is a presumption of open courts in Canada, and of all evidence being public unless it's exempted such as under the grounds listed above. Those exemptions aren't automatic- crown has to assert the privileges, and various mechanisms exist to test that in a secure manner that preserves the right to a fair trial.

I have no 'inside' knowledge on the Huang case, this is from reading through all of the decisions on CanLII some time back. The Huang case originated out of a CSIS wiretap of the Chinese embassy. While they were listening to the embassy for other reasons we don't get to know about. Huang calls the embassy up and offers up information on the shipbuilding program (at the 'Secret' level if I remember right).

CSIS is, quite reasonably, concerned about this. They sent an advisory letter to the RCMP - the Mounties carry the national security mandate. CSIS advisory letters will contain minimal information, but will point the police to what CSIS believes is a security threat that could warrant criminal investigation and prosecution.

The Mounties investigated, and Mr. Huang ended up charged under the Security of Information Act. Eventually, through the disclosure process, CSIS reluctantly coughed up a heavily redacted version of the affidavit they had submitted to get their original wiretap on the Chinese embassy. In criminal investigations that rely on wiretap info, it's very normal for defence to challenge the legality of the warrant permitting the interception of private communication, and to challenge the legal admissibility into evidence of the intercepted communications themselves. So, defence went after the CSIS warrant, and applied to have the rest of it unsealed.

The CSIS warrant had been redacted under S.38 of the Canada Evidence Act - national security and international relations (in this case, I believe, both). When Crown asserts a S.38 privilege, there's a process established for testing that privilege and whether the vetting will be uncovered. This process happens in federal court, and the trial judge in provincial court is blind to it. They only get what comes out the other end. That process is basically this:

1. Crown asserts a privilege. The security cleared federal court judge reviews the material (generally with the assistance of a neutral lawyer, security cleared, who functions as amicus curiae). The judge has to determine whether there is in fact potential harm to national security or international relations.

2. If the judge is satisfied, defence then needs to argue - without necessarily knowing what the redacted content is, mind you - that the material could be relevant to the defence. This is a very low threshold, and there must be deference to the defence in this.

3. If the judge determines that yes there is risk to those interests, and that also yes the material is relevant, how then can the public interest in security be balanced with the accused' right to a fair trial? The federal court judge has super broad discretion here- they can order just about anything appropriate.

In the Ribic case, the material in question was testimony from a could CAF Intelligence Operators- Ribic was a Serb-Canadian who went home to Serbia, and took several peacekeepers hostage including a Canadian, andused them as human shields at, I believe a munitions site. In this case, the judge allowed the evidence of the CAF members to be entered as testimony transcript only, with their names redacted. The jduge could also do things like order the the lawyer but not the accused be able to view certain material, they could order material fully disclosed, they could order it fully redacted- whatever they think is appropriate.

The last step after that is the Attorney General can exercise ministerial discretion to overrule the federal court judge and order some evidence remain undisclosed. It's presumed that the Attorney General has more fulsome knowledge of the national security imperatives than the judge.

Once all of this is done, the evidence, in its resultant form (maybe just as redacted, maybe some or all redactions lifted) gets admitted for the trial. The trial court judge can then exercise their discretion as to whether they think the accused can still get a fair trial- again, the trial judge never gets to peek under the black boxes.

In Huang, this process dragged out for years. Ultimately, the court ruled that more of the CSIS warrant would be uncovered. Global Affairs protested, saying this would harm international relations - I infer from this that the CSIS warrant relied on foreign intelligence that, if aired in open court, would hurt our intelligence sharing with a foreign partner. The Attorney general 'Noped' this, and exercised ministerial authority to keep the black boxes on the CSIS warrant.

Further legal wrangling ensued at the trial court level, but ultimately Huang's lawyers brought a successful Jordan application, and the case was stayed due to unreasonable delay. The case had been moving through the system for eight years.

So, in the end, we have a criminal justice system that struggles to deal with the timely adjudication of privilege claims over highly sensitive national security information. CSIS warrants don't normally cross over into the criminal realm, and police investigators, from what I've been told, try to steer clear of any information from the intelligence side so as to avoid these pitfalls.

The 'Intelligence to Evidence' dilemma is the focus of some interesting niche study in Canadian legal and national security circles. Leah West, Craig Forcese, and Stephanie Carvin are among some of the names doing a lot of work in that field if anyone is interested in reading further on it. Other countries do this stuff better, and there are learned voices trying to help Canada chart a path forward. So far I've not seen any indication that the federal government has set its sails.

SOIA prosecutions are rare, it may be some time before we next see this tested again. It may be that in the post Jordan Canadian legal environment, some legislative input is needed to help keep certain national security prosecutions viable.
 

Dana381

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Brihard Thanks for the detailed description(y). Canada Needs to get this sorted out better. Letting a person get away with espionage is unbelievable. I don't see these events happening less often in the future, if anything They will be happening more often. Lets hope they streamline the evidence dilemma and avoid repeats of this.
 

brihard

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Jordan was a 2016 case, and everyone’s very used to working in the post-Jordan framework now; the need for expeditious action - and for police and the crown to meticulously account for every day of delay - is now part of SOP. Hopefully knowing what they’re dealing with will allow police and prosecutors to deal with these challenges more smoothly and hit the timelines needed. Jordan makes some allowance for exceptionally complex cases, and I don’t think just what that means has been made clear in court yet, at least not in national security cases.
 
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