Canada’s Supreme Court’s ruling lets Alex Vavilov permanently reside in the country where his parents worked as embedded spies. His parents would become the models for the TV show “The Americans.”
Vavilov, who was born in Toronto to Tracey Lee Ann Foley and Donald Howard Heathfield, would normally qualify for birthright citizenship, if not for the fact that the couple lived as spies. He grew up in Canada and the U.S. as Alexander Foley.
“He’s very happy,” said Toronto-based lawyer Hadayt Nazami, who said his client plans to move to Canada from Russia. “This is a rare case. Even if someone is born in Canada in the future who is a child of spies, we can’t go around using citizenship laws to punish children when they have done nothing wrong.”
Canada’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Alex Vavilov, 25, can keep his citizenship even though his parents lived secret lives in the country as Russian spies.
Vavilov, 25, had been barred from returning to Canada. His parents, whose real names were Elena Vavilova and Andrey Bezrukov, were sending intelligence back to Russia. Prosecutors said, at one point in 2004, the father met with an employee of the U.S. government to discuss nuclear weapons research.
Vavilov and his brother, Timothy, had been unaware of his parents’ real identities up until that point.
“This is ridiculous. Their parents are convicted spies, both of whom assumed identities of deceased legitimate Canadian citizens for the purposes of infiltrating the United States under cover,” said Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent who oversaw the arrests of the parents
All 10 pleaded guilty to failing to register as foreign agents and other charges and deported to Russia after a spy swap.
Vavilov wanted to return to Canada to attend college but was denied. The Canadian government argued he was ineligible for birthright citizenship because of his parents were employees of a foreign government.
Nazami said Alex Vavilov had been trying to find work in Canada and visited using his Canadian passport.
“With this decision, both he and his brother will take steps to start establishing their lives where they wanted to,” he said.