Spy Jeffrey Delisle to keep military rank, for now

Jeffrey Paul Delisle jumps out of a Sheriff van after arriving at the provincial court in Halifax...

Jeffrey Paul Delisle jumps out of a Sheriff van after arriving at the provincial court in Halifax on February 28, 2012. Delisle, who was a naval intelligence officer, faces charges of giving secret information to a foreign entity. (REUTERS/Paul Darrow)

KRIS SIMS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:11 PM ET

HALIFAX - The Canadian naval officer who admitted to selling secrets to the Russians is holding on to his rank, for now.

Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle entered a surprise guilty plea in a Halifax court Wednesday to one count of breach of trust and two counts of sharing information with a foreign entity.

Delisle confessed to officials that he sold sensitive NATO information that he had access to through his security clearance with National Defence and Canadian Forces.

"We can confirm that he is keeping his rank as of right now, any other comments or announcements will be withheld while this case is before the civilian court," defence spokesman Capt. Alexandre Munoz said Thursday.

Delisle is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Experts say it's standard procedure to wait until a civilian court is finished with a member of the Armed Forces before any action is taken by the military.

"He will be dealt with in the same way as Russell Williams. When convicted in a civil court of a serious offense in connection with his duties, once that process is over, he will then be discharged by the military," said retired colonel Michel Drapeau, who specializes in and teaches military law. "Delisle will get a criminal record from the civilian court, and his military record will be 'released for service misconduct.'"

Drapeau said during the Williams case the governor general at the time set a precedent by stripping him of his rank after he was convicted of killing two women, and he expects the same thing will be done quickly to the admitted spy.

"Because of his revocation of his commission, he will no longer possess a rank as a member of the Canadian Forces, he will be banished from their midst and become a non-person as far as the military is concerned."

The defence department would not comment whether Delisle will continue to be paid, but Drapeau says the salary will stop the moment he is discharged.

If Delisle has 10 years of pensionable service, the military is not legally allowed to claw that back, since he personally contributed to it.

His conviction under the Security of Information Act is the first of its kind in Canada and carries the possibility of life in prison.

The Department of National Defence is reviewing security procedures in the wake of the spying case, and are working with Canada's allies.

"We are very aware of the case and, together with our allies, are reviewing the procedures that were in place to protect the security of that information," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters. "Given the extensive sharing of information that occurs between the 'five eyes' community -- Great Britain, Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia -- our agencies are always concerned when there is any compromise of security and we work very closely together."


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