He is the spy who loves us.
And now the lawyer for a former KGB agent facing deportation from Canada says his Winnipeg-based client will launch a vigorous fight to stay in the country he's called home for more than a decade.
"This is a very serious matter, and there could be very serious consequences to him. There is no question he will contest this," Ken Zaifman said Tuesday from his Winnipeg office.
Zaifman spoke out after an exclusive Free Press story revealed how Canadian immigration officials have launched a top-secret legal bid to have the man deported to Russia.
A two-day hearing is set to begin in Winnipeg on April 7.
Zaifman didn't want to disclose specific details about his client for security and privacy reasons, including his name, whether he has any other family in Canada or how he's spent the past decade here. The man is now in his late 60s, according to a justice source.
He was previously granted refugee status and has been living here without incident. But the Canadian Border Services Agency recently filed to have him ruled inadmissible to Canada.
There are no allegations he is actively involved in any spying or is a current threat. However, his past membership in the notorious Soviet secret police agency alone is being cited as grounds for removal under Sec. 34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
"I don't know what motivated the government to take action when they did," Zaifman said Tuesday. "These incidents are so remote in time, I'm surprised they would pursue them."
Zaifman confirmed his client is not accused of any acts of misrepresentation or deception, nor any illegal activity while living in Canada.
Zaifman also said the man isn't admitting to any previous acts of wrongdoing and they take the position there is "nothing which should affect his ability to remain in Canada."
A justice source told the Free Press federal officials have been aware of the man, and his past, for many years. Only recently did a request come from Ottawa to take action.
There is one similar case in recent Canadian history, involving a former KGB officer who was found living in Vancouver. The man was ordered deported in 2009, but sought religious sanctuary inside a B.C church where he remains to this day.
Zaifman wouldn't speculate whether the Winnipeg case will require such an extreme measure but said his client -- who remains free in the community pending his upcoming hearing -- has no desire to return to Russia.
A justice source conceded there could be a serious security risk if the man were deported, given his prior KGB involvement and the current political and security climate in Russia.