A court-ordered publication ban on the identities of the two undercover officers who infiltrated activist groups in Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo ahead of the G20 summit has been lifted.
The Globe can now identify the pair as Bindo Showan and Brenda Carey, both of whom are investigators for the Ontario Provincial Police. They were part of the Joint Intelligence Group, an RCMP-led body that coordinated intelligence-gathering between several police forces in the lead-up to the summit.
Constable Showan, who adopted the moniker “Khalid Mohammed” during his infiltration, testified in September at a preliminary inquiry for 17 people accused of conspiring to cause property destruction at the protests. On Tuesday, charges were dropped against 11 of them and the remaining six pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of counselling to commit mischief.
In September, the Crown requested a ban on reporting the officers’ names and anything else that would identify them, including physical details or descriptions of their speech patterns. Defence lawyers opposed the ban. The court ordered a temporary ban until both sides could make full arguments on the matter. Before that could happen, the inquiry was suspended while prosecutors and defence lawyers hammered out the plea bargain presented Tuesday.
Shortly after the bargain was announced, Crown prosecutor Jason Miller asked that the temporary publication ban be lifted. He referenced bloggers who had already broken the ban by posting information about the pair online and said continuing to enforce it was moot. The judge consented.
According to activists who crossed paths with Const. Showan, he adopted a boisterous personality while undercover, buying them pitchers of beer and driving people around in his white van. Const. Carey, who went by the alias “Brenda Dougherty,” moved into a house with several activists in Guelph, said protesters who knew her at the time.
Earlier in the day, Alex Hundert, Mandy Hiscocks, Leah Henderson, Peter Hopperton, Adam Lewis and Erik Lankin all pleaded guilty to counselling to commit mischief. Earlier conspiracy charges have been dropped.
Mr. Hundert and Ms. Hiscocks also pleaded guilty to counselling to obstruct police.
Both the Crown and defence have agreed to jail sentences of 13.5 months for Mr. Hundert, 16 months for Ms. Hiscocks, 10 months for Ms. Henderson, 5 months and 12 days for Mr. Hopperton, 3 months for Mr. Lankin and 3.5 months for Mr. Lewis.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the group called the conspiracy charges they had all initially faced “political prosecution.”
“This alleged conspiracy is absurd,” the statement says. “We were never all part of any one group, we didn’t all organize together, and our political backgrounds are all different. Some of us met for the first time in jail.”
The group said they were in a “winless” situation and ultimately decided their best option was to negotiate the plea bargain.
The 11 people who saw their charges dropped were mobbed by supporters, who banged drums and unfurled anti-G20 banners in a rally in the courthouse parking lot.
“No one should have had to plead guilty today – a billion dollars was spent for these convictions,” said Terence Luscombe. “This isn’t justice – we’ll make justice when all this is torn down.”
Patrick Cadorette, meanwhile, said the withdrawal of the charges showed there had not been a conspiracy. A Montreal anarchist, Mr. Cadorette said the idea that non-hierarchical protest organizers plotted the whole riot was absurd, and that he only met some of his former co-accused for the first time after they were arrested.
“We were accused of having conspired together, but we barely knew each other,” he said outside court. “We were at one meeting together.”
He said he was looking forward to getting back to organizing protests, something his bail conditions barred him from doing. For starters, he said, he would be heading to the Occupy Toronto camp.
Supporters of the accused packed the room and filled up an adjoining room where the proceedings were broadcast via closed-circuit video.
Mr. Lankin, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Hopperton will be formally sentenced next week. Ms. Henderson will be sentenced Dec. 20. Mr. Hundert and Ms. Hiscocks will be sentenced in Jan. 13.
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