Ontario court revokes bail for top Canada official charged with leaking secrets

OTTAWA (Reuters) - An Ontario Court on Friday revoked the bail of a top Canadian police intelligence official charged with leaking secret information and ordered that he be immediately taken back into custody.

Cameron Ortis, a director general with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who had access to highly sensitive domestic and foreign intelligence, was released on strict bail conditions in October.

He faces charges under a little-used 2012 security of information law for prosecuting spies.

One section of the law refers to a person with security clearance who “intentionally and without authority, communicates or confirms special operational information.” Ortis also faces charges of breach of trust and misuse of a credit card.

Canada is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network alongside the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Security experts have said the case could damage Canada’s standing in the network.

The RCMP said in a statement in September that the alleged offences took place when Ortis was a member of the force, but it gave no further details and said nothing about what other nations might be involved.

The prosecution had appealed Ortis’ original bail conditions, which required him to live with his parents in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was also prohibited from using any kind of device that connected to the internet and had to report to an RCMP detachment on a weekly basis.

A comprehensive publication ban, which is routine for bail hearings in Canada, makes it illegal to lay out the reasoning behind Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse’s ruling on Friday.

“Obviously we’re disappointed in the result,” the lawyer representing Ortis, Ian Carter, said, calling the decision to grant bail “reasonable and correct”.

Ortis listened to the hearing by telephone from his parents home and was then taken into custody.

“(Our) position was always that Mr. Ortis should be detained ... and the Superior Court agreed with us today,” prosecutor Judy Kliewer said.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki conceded in a September media briefing there was concern in the Five Eyes community about the Ortis case, but told reporters it was too early to tell what damage might have been done. None of Canada’s allies, she added, had clamped down on information sharing so far.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson, editing by Steve Scherer and Sonya Hepinstall