Son of Russian spies can travel home to Canada, judge rules

I agree with the government on this one. And the brothers have lived abroad most of their lives with the main connection to Canada being their passport:

A judge has ordered the Trudeau government to issue citizenship documents—and a passport—to the Toronto-born son of elite Russian spies, ruling that the 23-year-old should be allowed to return to Canada even though the Supreme Court is still pondering whether to hear one last appeal in his controversial case.

Alexander Vavilov was stripped of his Canadian citizenship “through no fault of his own,” the judge ruled, and after winning it back last summer at the Federal Court of Appeal, he should not be forced to wait in limbo while Ottawa tries to convince the country’s top court to overturn that decision. Instead, the Liberals should reinstate Vavilov’s revoked citizenship—and allow him to come home—pending any potential ruling from the Supreme Court.

“It is difficult to accept that issuing these documents to this one person will cause significant and irreparable harm to the public interest,” wrote Justice Wyman Webb of the Federal Court of Appeal, in his Jan. 19 decision. “There is no allegation that Mr. Vavilov did anything wrong.”

Ottawa has fought for years to keep Vavilov from re-entering his country of birth, and despite this latest ruling the government is still doing all it can to keep him out. Instead of conceding defeat, Justice Department lawyers filed yet another motion last week, asking the Federal Court of Appeal to reconsider. The feds remain adamant that nothing should happen on the contentious file until the Supreme Court decides, once and for all, whether Vavilov is indeed a Canadian.

The high court has yet to announce whether it will weigh in on the matter, and is under no deadline to do so.

Vavilov was born in Toronto in 1994 as Alexander Philip Anthony Foley, the second son of a husband-and-wife team of deep-cover KGB agents who slipped into Canada during the Cold War and stole the identities of two dead babies from Montreal: Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley. Alex and his older brother, Timothy, spent their childhood oblivious to the fact that their parents’ real names were Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, or that their mom and dad were prized assets of Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The boys were still young when the family moved to France, then Massachusetts—where, in 2010, the couple was arrested in a high-profile FBI raid that later inspired the hit TV series The Americans. Tim was 20 when his parents were exposed; Alex was 16.

After the bust made headlines around the world, immigration officials in Ottawa concluded that both brothers were never Canadian to begin with, despite being born here, because their parents were “employees in Canada of a foreign government,” a rare exception to the birthright rule under the Citizenship Act. Now Russian citizens who changed their last name to Vavilov, Alex and Tim have been battling in court to regain their Canadian status, arguing, among many other things, that they should not be punished for their parents’ espionage.

Though they lived abroad most of their lives, the brothers always travelled with Canadian passports and identified themselves as Canadians. “It is an integral part of my identity, the way others recognize me and is a recognition of certain values,” Alex told Maclean’slast year. “It is unacceptable that that the government may strip me of my rights just because it wants to.”

The feds appear especially eager to keep Tim, the eldest brother, from coming back. According to a report prepared by a senior immigration official, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has told the government that Tim not only knew the truth about his parents’ double lives, but had pledged to join them—having been “sworn in” by the SVR, the KGB’s post-Soviet successor, before his mother and father were arrested.

Specific evidence to support that claim has never been revealed, and Tim, now 27, denies the accusation. “I am aware that there have been some media reports that my parents were ‘grooming’ me for espionage,” he wrote in one sworn affidavit. “These allegations are not true. It has been stated by the FBI that for over 10 years my home was bugged, however no evidence of my involvement has ever been presented.”…

via Son of Russian spies can travel home to Canada, judge rules –

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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