OTTAWA (Reuters) - The son of Russian spies who was born in Canada and was stripped of his citizenship after his parents were arrested for espionage in the United States is a Canadian national, the country’s top court ruled on Thursday.
Canada’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld an earlier federal court ruling that said a 2014 administrative decision to strip Alexander Vavilov of his citizenship was unreasonable. Vavilov was born in Canada in 1994, as was his brother, Timothy, four years earlier.
“The judges said that Mr. Vavilov was a Canadian citizen,” according to the ruling.
The hit TV series “The Americans” was based partly on the story of Vavilov’s family. His parents came to Canada in the 1980s under deep cover and assumed names, with the mission to immerse themselves in Western society. The family later moved to Boston, where Vavilov’s parents were arrested in 2010 and charged with spying.
Vavilov’s parents returned to Russia in a spy swap. Both brothers were also sent to Russia. Alexander said he had no idea that his parents were spies until they were arrested.
Children born in Canada normally automatically become Canadian citizens, but the country’s Registrar of Citizenship said Alexander was an exception because his parents had been like diplomats - representatives or employees of a foreign government.
The Supreme Court upheld a previous federal appeals court ruling saying that Vavilov’s parents did not enjoy the “privileges and immunities” of diplomats and so the exception could not be applied to their son.
Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova used the aliases Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley — names lifted from two Canadian children who had died in infancy. They later admitted their real names to U.S. authorities.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama