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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Canada Citizenship Confirmed for Son of Russian Spies

Canada's Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed the right to Canadian citizenship for the son of Russian spies, whose case inspired the TV series "The Americans."

OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — Canada's Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed the right to Canadian citizenship for the son of Russian spies, whose case inspired the TV series "The Americans."

Alexander Vavilov was born Alexander Foley in Canada in 1994, four years after his brother Timothy.

Their parents Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley were among 10 Russian spies expelled from the United States in 2011.

Canada's highest court upheld a June 2017 ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal that Alexander had the right to Canadian citizenship.

The government had stripped Alexander of citizenship after he applied for a Canadian passport in 2014. Ottawa argued that he was ineligible because his parents worked for a foreign government.

A child born in Canada automatically becomes a citizen except if one of the parents is a diplomat.

In 2017 the Federal Court of Appeal said his parents did not have diplomatic privileges or immunities in Canada, leaving him eligible for citizenship.

Canadian media reported that the Supreme Court ruling on Alexander's case would automatically apply to his brother who had begun a similar court challenge.

Their parents lived in Toronto when Alexander was born but left for France the following year, before eventually landing in the United States.

The then-teenager's life unraveled in 2010 when FBI agents arrested his parents at their Boston area home.

Heathfield and Foley would admit to being Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova. According to an affidavit, the young Vavilov did not know his parents were Russian agents.

In court documents, Alexander said he has "always and will always consider myself to be Canadian. It is the only culture I can associate with, and has been a cornerstone of my identity, even after these events."

© Agence France-Presse

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