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Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle is facing two charges under Canada's Security of Information Act, and sources told Fife that Russia was the nation involved.
While federal officials could launch a complaint with the Russian ambassador or expel diplomats stationed here, Fife said Ottawa isn't interested in a "tit-for-tat" expulsion battle with Moscow.
"I'm told this will be kept very low-key," Fife reported Tuesday.
"We don't want to poison relations with the Russians, because the prime minister is going to Russia in the fall for an APEC meeting."
I hope he didn't expose the secret that Canadian bacon doesn't exist (We call it ham).
Sources say that the information could include sensitive data on underwater dead zones, which would allow Russian submarines to penetrate sensitive areas, in addition to information about navy ship movements in the Arctic and the Middle East.
Weapons system information may also have been leaked, sources said.
"But the real worry is the nightmare scenario," said Fife. "Did he have access to classified information, classified as beyond secret?"
That could include international communication signals from Canadian and American spies working in secret locations abroad.
"If he had access to that information, sources say this would be a goldmine for the Russians," Fife said.