A judge has stayed criminal proceedings against a man accused of breaching Canada’s secrets law, because of an unreasonable delay in bringing the matter to trial.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot handed down the ruling during a brief hearing Wednesday, ending Qing Quentin Huang’s long-running case unless the Crown decides to appeal.
It has been eight years since the Hamilton man was arrested in Burlington, Ont., following an RCMP-led investigation called Project Seascape.
Huang, an employee of Lloyd’s Register, a subcontractor to Irving Shipbuilding Inc., was charged under the Security of Information Act with attempting to communicate secrets to China.
Police said the information related to elements of the federal shipbuilding strategy.
The engineer’s trial in Ontario court was delayed by disputes over disclosure of information in the case that played out in Federal Court, the venue for deciding how much sensitive material can be kept under wraps.
“Eight years is too long to bring a person to trial. We repeatedly asked the government to speed up the case. We could not get the government to treat the case with urgency,” said Samara Secter, a lawyer for Huang.
“The only one who was in a hurry to have his trial here was Mr. Huang.”
‘Big relief’ case over, Huang says through lawyers
Through Secter and her colleague, Frank Addario, Huang said Wednesday it was “a big relief for me that the case is over.”
“I felt very alone during the case. No one was on my side except my lawyers.”
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada said it was awaiting Dambrot’s written reasons for the decision and would review them once they are released.
In Federal Court, Huang had pressed for release of additional portions of a heavily redacted affidavit and warrant that authorized the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to intercept telecommunications at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.
Huang was not a target of the warrant and had never been under CSIS investigation.
However, the spy service advised the RCMP of phone calls Huang allegedly made to the embassy and claimed he “offered to provide Canadian military secrets” to the Chinese government. That prompted the police investigation resulting in Huang’s arrest.
Huang contended the warrant opened the door to a breach of his charter guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.
In September 2020, the Crown dropped part of the case against Huang by staying two of four counts.