Canada court allows son of Russian spies to keep citizenship

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TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday the son of a Russian spy couple who lived clandestine lives in Canada and the United States can keep his Canadian citizenship.

Alex Vavilov was born in Toronto, which would typically qualify him for Canadian citizenship except for one thing: His parents were part of a notorious Russian spy ring in North America that was broken up by the FBI in 2010.

The ruling means Vavilov can reside permanently in the country where his parents once lived clandestine lives as deeply embedded spies who were the models for the TV show “The Americans.”

The Canadian government argued he wasn’t entitled to citizenship and had appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the passport granted to him by a lower court. The top court upheld that ruling.

The parents came to Toronto in the 1980s and took the names Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley. They then gave birth to Tim in 1990 and Alex in 1994 before moving to Paris in 1995 and then Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1999.

In 2010, the FBI arrested a ring of sleeper agents for Russia that it had been following for years in the United States. All 10, including the now well-known Anna Chapman, pleaded guilty and were returned to Russia in a swap.

The Vacilov brothers maintain they didn’t know their parents were Russian let alone Russian spies. The family’s story became the inspiration for “The Americans.”

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