The former head of the RCMP’s intelligence unit, Cameron Ortis, is back in police custody and will return to jail after his bail was revoked on Friday.
On Oct. 22, Justice of the Peace Serge Legault released the 47-year-old Mr. Ortis on bail.
The Crown sought a review of the decision shortly after and won its case on Friday. The reasons for Ontario Superior Court Judge Marc Labrosse’s decision are covered by a publication ban, as well as all evidence and testimony heard in court during the bail hearing.
Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer said that Mr. Ortis was remanded into custody shortly after the ruling and will be brought back to Ottawa. As part of his bail condition, Mr. Ortis had been living with his parents in Abbotsford, B.C.
“The Crown’s position was always that Mr. Ortis should be detained,” Ms. Kliewer told reporters.
The RCMP arrested Mr. Ortis in September. He is facing seven charges under the Criminal Code and the Security of Information Act. According to court documents, the RCMP allege that Mr. Ortis communicated special operational information and prepared information for the purpose of communicating with a foreign entity or terrorist group.
At the time of his arrest, Mr. Ortis was the director-general of the RCMP’s national intelligence co-ordination centre. He is no longer in this position, but officially remains an employee of the RCMP.
Mr. Ortis’s lawyer, Ian Carter, said he will now focus on preparing his client’s defence.
“We’re disappointed in the result [of the bail review],” he said. “For now, basically we need to get more disclosure [of evidence from the RCMP] to analyze the case and begin preparation for defending him against these charges.”
Among the conditions of his bail, Mr. Ortis had been forbidden from using equipment capable of connecting to the internet and had been required to live under the constant supervision of either one of his parents. He had also relinquished his passport and had agreed to report to the RCMP every Monday.
Security experts welcomed Friday’s decision. Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert who teaches at the University of Ottawa, said he thought the October decision to grant Mr. Ortis bail was “perhaps not very wise.” He said the return to jail is “more sensible given the seriousness of the charges.”
Prof. Wark said the potential for flight risk and the accused’s proficiency with computers are factors that needed to be weighed in a case like this.
“There are always concerns about the possibility of being able to flee justice," he said.
He added decisions on bail should also reflect the seriousness of the charges, which in this case include alleged breaches of Canada’s official secrets act.
Richard Fadden, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who also served as national-security adviser to prime ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, called the revocation of bail a “correction decision” for this case.
“Given the seriousness of the charges against him and the knowledge that he has all sort of contacts everywhere in the world, I think it’s the right move to keep him in jail until he comes to trial,” he said. “Even if his passport has already been handed in, there are other ways of leaving this country without a passport."
In the 2012 spying case in which navy officer Jeffrey Delisle was ultimately convicted of spying for the Russians, the court did not grant him bail while awaiting his trial.