POLITICS

Former spy watchdog's wife arraigned on criminal charges in Montreal

06/14/2013 03:33 EDT | Updated 08/14/2013 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - The Crown says it will oppose bail for the wife of Canada's former spy watchdog on charges she allegedly helped her husband launder millions of dollars.

Arthur Porter remains in a Panamanian prison and is attempting to fight his extradition.

Pamela Porter appeared briefly in a Montreal courtroom on Friday after being returned to Canada a day earlier.

She faces one charge of conspiracy as well as another related to laundering more than $22 million.

Porter, who wore a flower-print dress, grey sweater and handcuffs, did not enter a plea. Her lawyer waived the reading of the charges and asked for a bail hearing.

A date will be set on Monday and she will be detained until then.

Prosecutor Marie-Helene Giroux, citing the gravity of the charges and the belief Porter might be a flight risk, said the Crown will oppose bail.

"She has no address in Montreal yet, so obviously not knowing where she will reside is part of a flight risk," Giroux said.

"It's always a case-by-case situation. We feel in this particular case right now there's no conditions that were offered to us actually to justify her release, so we're objecting to her release."

The prosecutor acknowledged media reports that Porter had changed her mind about agreeing to the extradition.

"She did oppose at the very last minute,'' Giroux said. ''However, all the documents were signed according to Canadian and Panamanian laws so she had to be extradited."

Arthur Porter is fighting his extradition to Canada on the grounds his arrest was illegal because he says he has diplomatic immunity from Sierra Leone.

Porter was never formally employed as a diplomat for Sierra Leone. He was a volunteer goodwill ambassador, but he appeared to trumpet the position as something more.

Porter, who was head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2010-2011, faces several charges related to alleged scams in the awarding of a $1.3-billion Montreal hospital contract, one of the biggest projects in the country.

He says he's done nothing wrong.

Porter, who had been living in the Bahamas, has been wanted for months in connection with Quebec's ongoing corruption scandals.

The Porters were arrested last month in Panama on an Interpol warrant.