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Federal stand in Russian spy case would breed citizenship 'uncertainty': lawyers

Federal stand in Russian spy case would breed citizenship 'uncertainty': lawyers
From CBC - February 15, 2018

The federal government's rationale for trying to deny Canadian citizenship to the Toronto-born son of Russian spies leads down an "absurd and purposeless" path, the young man's lawyers argue.

They are asking the Supreme Court of Canada to dismiss the government's application for a hearing of the legal issues at the heart of the strange espionage saga that has left Alexander Vavilov, 23, in limbo.

Accepting the federal position "would result in uncertainty about an individual's fundamental right to citizenship," Vavilov's counsel say in a brief filed with the high court.

The Supreme Court will announce in coming weeks whether it's going to hear the case, though no date has been set for the decision.

The government is appealing a ruling that returned Canadian citizenship to Vavilov after it was revoked by Ottawa.

Vavilov, 23, was born in 1994 as Alexander Philip Anthony Foley to Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley. The following year the familyincluding an older boy, Timothyleft Canada for France, where they spent four years before moving to the United States.

The FBI turned up at the family's Boston-area home eight years ago. In all, 11 peoplefour of whom claimed to be Canadianwere indicted on charges of conspiring to act as secret agents on behalf of the SVR, the Russian Federation's successor to the notorious KGB.

Heathfield and Foley admitted to being Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova.

Unintended consequences, lawyers argue

The FBI said Bezrukov had based his cover identity on the birth record of a baby with the surname Heathfield who died in Montreal at the age of six weeks in early 1963.

Bezrukov and Vavilova were among those sent back to Moscowpart of a swap for prisoners in Russia.

Alexander finished high school in Russia, studying in English.

He changed his surname to Vavilov on the advice of Canadian officials in a bid to obtain a Canadian passport. But he ran into trouble at the passport office and in August 2014 the citizenship registrar informed Vavilov the government no longer recognized him as a citizen of Canada.

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