A former Canadian naval intelligence officer convicted of spying for Russia has been granted day parole and could be living in a halfway house this fall, the Parole Board of Canada said Wednesday.
Former junior navy officer Jeffrey Delisle was given day parole on Tuesday following a three-hour hearing at Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick.
He had been sentenced in 2013 to 20 years in prison.
Delisle started selling Western military secrets to Russia in 2007, but wasn’t caught until 2011 when the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation tipped off the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
He pleaded guilty to regularly passing classified western intelligence to Russia in exchange for cash. The judge presiding over the case said at the time that he would serve 18 years and five months behind bars because of time served.
A parole board spokeswoman said two board members presided over Tuesday’s hearing, determining that he was not likely to reoffend.
“All decisions are based on risk so if the parole board members feel that an offender can be released and not be a threat to society and won’t reoffend while on parole, then they do grant parole,” she said.
The parole is for a period of up to six months and takes effect in September, but that it may begin later depending on bed availability at the unnamed facility.
The spokeswoman, who didn’t want her name used, said Delisle has to live at the halfway house and is under direct supervision by a parole officer. He will have to report back to the halfway house every night, she said.
She would not reveal the location of the halfway house.
Provincial court Judge Patrick Curran said at sentencing that Delisle “coldly and rationally” offered his services to Russia, who valued his work. Curran also ordered Delisle to pay a fine of nearly $111,817 — the amount he collected from his Russian bosses.
Delisle, who was 41 when he was sentenced, was arrested in January 2012 and became the first person to be charged under the Security of Information Act. That law was passed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
In an agreed statement of facts, Delisle admitted that his treachery began when he walked into the Russian embassy in Ottawa in July 2007 and offered his services for money.
He was going through a period of emotional turmoil; his marriage had broken up and he was going through financial difficulties.
For years, he funnelled classified information to the Russians for monthly payments of about $3,000.
The naval threat assessment analyst used floppy discs and memory sticks to smuggle information out of Halifax’s HMCS Trinity, the military all-source intelligence centre on the East Coast.
He then took the information home and copied it into an email address that he shared with his Russian agent so he never had to send the email.
But he came under suspicion after returning in September 2011 from a trip to Brazil, where he met a Russian agent named Victor who told him that he would become a “pigeon” or liaison for all Russian agents in Canada.
Authorities intercepted two messages in January 2012 that Delisle tried to pass on to the Russians, and he was arrested soon afterwards.
The case raised serious security questions, including whether shared intelligence from Canada’s allies — notably the United States — had fallen into Russian hands.
In 2014, Moscow’s outgoing envoy to Ottawa, Georgiy Mamedov, told The Canadian Press that they learned nothing of value from Delisle.
Delisle joined the navy as a reservist in 1996, became a member of the regular forces in 2001 and was promoted to an officer rank in 2008.
The Canadian Press