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Freedom Convoy GoFundMe organizer denied bail due to 'substantial likelihood' to 're-offend,' could face 'lengthy' prison term

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David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a controversial move Tuesday, a judge in Ottawa, Canada, denied bail for a leading organizer of the Freedom Convoy trucker protests, claiming she presents a "substantial likelihood" to "re-offend."

The decision immediately garnered attention across Canada, as critics noted that even alleged violent offenders, in some cases, are granted bail. Yet Tamara Lich, a 47-year-old mother and activist from Alberta, won't be afforded the option.

Lich was arrested and charged Thursday with counseling to commit mischief after having raised over $10 million through a since-halted GoFundMe campaign sponsoring a groundswell of protests over the national COVID-19 vaccine mandate and other restrictions placed on truckers operating in Canada.

For weeks, thousands of protesters had camped out in Canada's capital city, Ottawa, and along border crossings with the U.S., demanding an end to the restrictions.

In her ruling Tuesday, Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois said she was not convinced that Lich would go home quietly and discontinue her counseling activity if released on bond.

"I cannot be reassured that if I release you into the community that you will not re-offend," Bourgeois said, according to the Ottawa Citizen. "Your detention is necessary for the protection and safety of the public."

"This community has already been impacted enough by some of the criminal activity and blockades you took part in and even led," the judge added, according to CBC. "You have had plenty of opportunity to remove yourself and even others from this criminal activity but obstinately chose not to and persistently counseled others not to either."

"In Canada, every citizen can certainly disagree with and protest against government decisions but it needs to be done in a democratic fashion in abidance with the laws that have been established democratically," Bourgeois concluded.

Lich is scheduled to return to court on March 2. Following the bail denial, Lich's attorney, Diane Magas, said she was preparing a bail review application for her client in hopes it would be considered as soon as next week.

In court on Tuesday, Bourgeois warned that Lich's crimes will likely carry a lengthy prison sentence if a conviction is rendered.

"There is no doubt here on conviction you are certainly facing a potentially lengthy term of imprisonment," she said.

Prior to her arrest, Lich reportedly said she wasn't worried about facing charges since she believed her protest was legal. She also claimed that her bank account was frozen under a sweeping measure known as the Emergencies Act, invoked by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

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