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Spy case adjourned until July while lawyer reviews thousands of documents

HALIFAX – The lawyer for a Canadian navy intelligence officer accused of spying says he has to wade through thousands of documents — many of them blacked out — before determining how to proceed with the unusual case.

Mike Taylor, who is representing Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, said outside court Wednesday that much of the information he has received so far has been redacted because of security concerns.

Delisle, who was last posted at a naval intelligence centre at Canadian Forces Base Stadacona’s Trinity section in Halifax, faces two charges under the Security of Information Act that deal with communicating information over the past five years that could harm Canada’s interests.

Taylor said the “voluminous” amount of information has to be vetted by several justice and intelligence agencies before it can be handed over to him, slowing down the process of moving the case forward.

“There are a number of layers of review that have to be undertaken to get the information that we do need released and I understand that,” he said.

“It’s just taking some time.”

Taylor received another adjournment and is due back in provincial court on July 4, when he could enter election and plea for Delisle.

Taylor said he needed more time because he had trouble opening a hard drive provided to him by the Crown and some of the information was in French and required translation.

He said he has no issue with the way prosecutors are handing over material to him, but added that he may challenge some of the information that has been redacted in a bid to have it released.

“A lot of it is blacked out for some obvious reasons I guess and I have to make a determination as to whether I want to challenge any of that information,” he said outside court.

He said some of the material has been blacked out because of “security interests and the risk of exposing informants in the field.”

The Crown did not comment outside court.

Delisle, 41, was denied bail in March and has been in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility since his arrest in January. He was not in court Wednesday.

Taylor said Delisle is “being as patient as he can. He understands it takes a long time to get through this and he wants to make sure a thorough job is done, so he’s waiting it out.”

A broad publication ban was ordered covering evidence presented at his bail hearing. That could change if the case moves to Supreme Court and a similar ban is not imposed.

Court documents say one of the alleged offences happened between July 6, 2007, and Jan. 13, 2012, while the other offence is alleged to have happened between Jan. 10, 2012, and Jan. 13, 2012.

Delisle also faces a breach of trust charge under the Criminal Code that is alleged to have happened between July 6, 2007, and Jan. 13, 2012.

All the offences are alleged to have happened in or near Halifax, Ottawa and Kingston, Ont.

While a copy of the charges allege information was passed to a foreign entity, the section of the act under which Delisle is charged also says the offence can include communicating information to a terrorist group. The act says anyone convicted of the offence Delisle is charged with faces life in prison.

Defence sources have said the Trinity section is a multinational base with access to secret data from NATO countries.

Delisle joined the navy as a reservist in 1996, then became a member of the regular forces in 2001, and was promoted to an officer rank in 2008.

He was charged under a section of the act that was passed by the House of Commons after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.