Hadayt Nazami, Mr. Vavilov's lawyer, said the brothers had the right to Canadian citizenship because they were innocent victims who did not know that her parents worked as spies. He also said that her parents had not officially worked for the Russian government when they were in Canada.
"These are innocent people involved in this larger game between superpowers," he said over the phone. “Back then they were children. We don't use citizenship laws to punish people for something their parents did. “
The background story of the Vavilov family is the stuff of a spy thriller – what inspired them with“ The Americans ”.
After training in Russia, Mr. Vavilov's parents moved to Toronto, where they adopted the names of Canadians who died as infants – Tracey Lee Ann Foley and Donald Howard Heathfield. The couple started a successful diaper business and had two boys – Timothy 1990 and Alexander 1994.
After spending time in France, the family moved to the United States in 1999 and eventually lived in Cambridge. Mass., Where Mr. Bezrukov did a thesis at Harvard.
But the couple were monitored by the FBI as part of an extensive Russian spy ring that was rigorously trained and undercover identities and included sleep spies in Yonkers, New York, Manhattan, New Jersey, Boston, and Virginia. The couple pleaded guilty to spying for Russia and returned to Russia as part of an exchange with American spies arrested in Russia.
In an affidavit submitted to a Canadian court, Alexander Vavilov stated that he had grown up believing in Canadians, had learned French and English considering his Canadian heritage, and was shocked and "traumatized" when he was discovered that his parents were spies.
"I vividly remember the FBI agents who came into our house with guns when I went down the stairs," he wrote. "My parents were handcuffed in front of my eyes. Canada will always be my home, ”he added. "It's the only culture I can identify with and it was a cornerstone of my identity."