What is a spy?
By Tim Naumetz
OTTAWA – A Federal Court judge will soon be tasked with answering a question that most likely hasn’t come up in a Canadian courtroom before: what is a spy?
The question is key in the case of a 43-year-old law graduate from Ukraine who has been trying for nine years to get a visa to enter Canada as a permanent resident but has been refused because of his army service in the former Soviet Union.
Military service alone wouldn’t normally prevent Dmytro Afanasyev, his wife, and their two children from immigrating to Canada from Ukraine.
But authorities have denied their entry because a visa officer at the Canadian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, ruled Afanasyev was inadmissible because he engaged in espionage while he was a soldier.
But did he?
Toronto immigration lawyer Gary Segal, Afanasyev’s counsel in a Federal Court appeal of the visa officer’s ruling, says the answer is no.
Segal says the one-time conscript in the Soviet army who intercepted U.S. radio signals as a private in East Germany was not a spy. He was doing his job gathering military intelligence and had to follow orders.
In fact, Segal says, although Afanasyev could and still does speak English fluently, he had no idea what the encrypted information he transcribed and passed up the ladder meant.
The facts in the Federal Court file on the appeal appear straightforward. There is no allegation Afanasyev falsified information during his three visa application interviews.
He freely told the Canadians, apparently including Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers who interviewed him, about his military service.
The record is summed up in straightforward fashion in an Oct. 2, 2008, letter to Afanasyev from K.L. Erickson, the Warsaw Embassy’s first secretary for immigration, who informed Afanasyev he was inadmissible on security grounds.
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/ya2l7xb