An ultra-secret Canadian spy agency broke the law by spying on barricaded Mohawks during the Oka Crisis of 1990, according to a former Canadian intelligence officer.

The allegations come from Fred Stock, who worked for the secretive Communications Security Establishment between 1987 and 1991.

The agency, known as The Farm to employees, is part of the Canadian Forces and spies on phone calls, faxes, email and satellite communications. It is prohibited by law from spying on Canadians.

Stock worked as a data processor in the agency’s communications centre in Ottawa, where all intercepted traffic passed.

“I got to see everything,” said Stock, who, prior to joining CSE, spent nine years with the Canadian Forces communications research section, known as the ”291 ers.”

Stock told The Nation that at the beginning of the 11-week armed standoff, several dozen CSE employees and 291 ers were assembled for the operation.

“They gathered anyone they had of Native background in case of conversations in a Native language,” said Stock in a phone interview from his home in Stratford, Ont., where he is on a disability pension.

“They got two or three days of briefings and took over a floor in a hotel just outside Oka.”

Stock said the CSE team spent the rest, of the crisis holed up in the hotel spying on the Mohawks. “They monitored every form of communications – telephone, fax, email, CB, ham radio. They spied on any communications they believed would be available to the Natives.

“They were monitoring everything and reporting to the CSE,” he said.

Stock said he doesn’t know which hotel they stayed in or exactly what traffic was picked up.

At the outset of the operation, Stock said he was dubious about its legality and spoke about it with another CSE employee. “I said, ‘Should we be doing this?’ He smiled and shrugged. He didn’t know.”

Stock said the Oka operation was clearly against the law. ‘‘They’re not supposed to spy on Canadians. The mandate states that they are only (supposed to target) foreign communications.

“They acted outside their mandate.”

CSE spokesman Kevin Mills refused to speak about any of the agency’s operations, but added, “We don’t target the communications of Canadians. We are a foreign intelligence agency. Aboriginal people are from our point of view Canadians.”

Stock was eventually put on paid leave in 1991 and officially terminated in 1993, he says, after raising too many questions about the CSE’s activities.

Stock received a cash settlement in August 1995 upon leaving the agency. He says the CSE tried to discredit him and distort his employment record after he started speaking out.

In 1995, the Toronto Star first suggested the CSE likely spied on the Mohawks in 1990. It cited a Sept. 27,1990, Defense Department news release that said, “In response to the activities at Oka and due to intercept of communications at Kahanawake, the 2nd Battalion RCR and 3rd Battalion Van Doos were placed on increased alert.”

The Star noted, “Since department sources have often claimed the Mohawk warriors possess sophisticated radio sets which constantly change frequencies and use electronic scrambling to defeat monitoring, the only conceivable unit capable of intercepting these type of communications is the CSE.”

Media reports have also suggested that a super-secret elite military unit known as Joint Task Force-2 was deployed to Oka during an escalation in hostilities in 1992 to conduct surveillance.