10/15/2012 12:54 EDT | Updated 12/15/2012 05:12 EST

Navy Spy To Keep Rank, Salary Until Sentencing

Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle is escorted from provincial court in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012. The Canadian navy intelligence officer, charged with communicating information to a foreign entity, faces charges under the Security of Information Act. Delisle, 40, faces charges under the Security of Information Act that deal with communicating information that could harm Canada's interests. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Andrew Vaughan)

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, who has pleaded guilty to selling military secrets to Russia, will keep his pay, rank and benefits until he is sentenced in January, the Department of National Defence confirmed to CBC News.

"The Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces provide for the forfeiture of pay for the period during which a member is in civil custody awaiting trial by a civil tribunal, if the civil tribunal subsequently finds the member guilty of an offence," a spokesman for the department said in an email.

"As the matter is still before the court, it would be inappropriate to further comment on matters relating to his service at this time."

Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty in a Halifax court last week to breach of trust and two counts of passing information to a foreign entity between July 2007 and Jan. 13, 2011. The offences happened in Ottawa and Kingston, Ont., and Halifax and Bedford, N.S., where he lived.

Although Delisle entered the guilty pleas and the pleas were accepted by Justice Patrick Curran, the Department of National Defence said the court "has not yet found him guilty of the offences." It's possible the defence department will attempt to recover back pay once Delisle is sentenced.

Delisle's sentencing has been set for Jan. 10 and Jan. 12.

The only time a Canadian Forces member was stripped of his Queen's commission was in the case of convicted murderer Russell Williams, who was stripped of his rank as colonel and denied severance pay.

Williams was also stripped of his medals, with his pay terminated and recovered from the date of his arrest. That did not happen until after he was sentenced for his crimes.

Only the Queen or her representative in Canada, the Governor General, can strip an officer of his or her commission.

Delisle walked into the Russian Embassy in Ottawa in 2007 and offered to sell secrets to that country's military intelligence agency, beginning an espionage career that lasted almost four years.

Delisle was posted to the security unit HMCS Trinity, an intelligence facility at the naval dockyard in Halifax. It tracks vessels entering and exiting Canadian waters via satellites, drones and underwater devices.

While there, he worked on a system called the Stone Ghost linking the "Five Eyes" allies: the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Delisle downloaded information onto a floppy disk and uploaded it to an email address for his Russian handlers.

He was paid between $2,800 and $3,000 a month by the Russians for the information.

The maximum sentence for communicating information to a foreign entity is life in prison.

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