IN THE NEWS ~ Former KGB agent in Vancouver wants feds to reconsider deportation
December 21st, 2009 - 3:10pm
PUBLICATION: The Hamilton Spectator, Times & Transcript (Moncton), The Daily News (Truro)
PAGE: A10 DATE: 2009.12.19
SOURCE: The Canadian Press
New documents released in case of ex-KGB agent
A former KGB agent who has taken sanctuary in a Vancouver church to avoid deportation says the federal government should reconsider his case in light of newly released documents.
Mikhail Lennikov took sanctuary in a Lutheran church in June after his application to stay in Canada was denied on security grounds.
Lennikov and New Democrat MP Peter Julian have obtained more than 3,500 documents from several government departments. They say the documents don't support the federal government's claim that Lennikov poses a risk to national security.
The batch of documents contain several reports and memos that allege Lennikov engaged in espionage and raised concerns about his involvement in the KGB.
Lennikov says he was simply a translator in the KGB, which he says he felt pressured to join in the early 1980s and left after five years.
PUBLICATION: Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald
PAGE: A3 DATE: 2009.12.21
SECTION: Westcoast News
BYLINE: Andrea Woo
MPs hope spirit of Christmas will work for former KGB agent; Lennikov hopes to stay in Canada with his wife and son
Two B.C. members of Parliament hope the spirit of Christmas will inspire the federal government to back down and allow former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov to stay in Canada.
"Christmas is the season of giving and forgiveness, the season of generosity," said Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh at a Sunday news conference with NDP MP Don Davies and Lennikov at the church where Lennikov has taken sanctuary.
"In that spirit, I wanted to make sure that we remind the government that they have a chance ... to be forgiving and giving and generous and allow Mikhail Lennikov to permanently stay in the country."
Lennikov, 49, entered Canada on a student visa in 1997 and has lived here with his wife and son for more than a decade. He says he did a combination of clerical work and translation for the KGB from 1983 to 1988.
He took sanctuary at the First Lutheran Church in Vancouver in June after immigration officials declared him a threat to national security and denied his application to stay in Canada.
His wife, Irina, and son, Dmitri, were given permission to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds.
At the church Sunday, Lennikov said some of his biggest frustrations are not being able to spend more time with his family and not being able to guide 18-year-old Dmitri along a career path. Another is leaving Irina to head the household on her own.
"My wife has to bear this burden of providing for the whole family and taking care of Dmitri," said Lennikov. "It's extremely difficult, seeing her almost at the edge of her emotional and even physical strength."
With the help of NDP MP Peter Julian, Lennikov recently obtained more than 3,500 pages of documents from various government departments and says there is nothing in them that indicates he's a threat to Canadian security.
"He has not found anything in those documents other than what he had given them by way of information himself," said Dosanjh.
"We can't find a sentence -- not a word -- that would explain to any reasonable person why Mikhail Lennikov ought not to be allowed in this country," said Davies.
Lennikov says he will spend Christmas attending a church service, followed by a dinner with family and friends from the congregation.
KEYWORDS: NATIONAL JUSTICE POLITICS
Former KGB agent in Vancouver wants federal government to reconsider deportation
VANCOUVER _ A former KGB agent who has been hiding in a Vancouver church for the past six months to avoid deportation says the federal government should reconsider his case in light of thousands of pages of newly released documents.
Mikhail Lennikov, who has lived in Canada with his wife and child for more than a decade, took sanctuary in a Lutheran church in June after his application to stay in Canada was denied. He worked for the KGB as a translator in the 1980s, and immigration officials have declared him a threat to national security.
With the help of an NDP MP, Lennikov obtained more than 3,500 pages of documents from various government departments, and he insists there is nothing in the documents to back up claims that he poses a threat to Canada.
Lennikov said he's been unfairly judged simply for being a member of the KGB _ which he said he joined under pressure and voluntarily left after five years _ even though he insists he never committed any crimes or spied for the notorious Soviet security agency.
"I know, yes, there is kind of a big tattoo on my forehead saying 'KGB' but it doesn't define me,'' Lennikov, 49, said Friday at a news conference at the church he's called home since June.
"I do regret that page in my life. I personally did nothing that I would be ashamed of while being in KGB.''
Lennikov and his family came to Canada in 1997 on a student visa, which was routinely renewed for the next two years. It wasn't until the family applied for landed immigrant status in 1999 that officials raised concerns about his history with the KGB.
Lennikov said he was working as a translator when he was approached by the KGB in 1981 before a trip to Japan. He joined the organization in 1983, and he said he did a combination of clerical work and Japanese translation until he left in 1988.
Reports from border officials acknowledge that Lennikov did not have any military or espionage training, although he had practised using automatic weapons during his time with the security agency.
The documents also note that he prepared reports related to Japan and passed along information about people he met during trips to the country back to the KGB.
It appears to be his trips to Japan that raised the most concern among border officials, with one report describing his activities in that country as "acts of espionage against a democratic government.''
A report summarizing Lennikov's past with the KGB suggests the government's concerns are connected to anxiety in recent years about Russia increasing its foreign intelligence activity.
"There has been no indication that Mr. Lennikov . . . has been involved in espionage or other intelligence activities in Canada,'' says the report.
"However, Canada and its allies are concerned at the significant recent expansion in the activities of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Mr. Lennikov's highly ambiguous account of his KGB career does not provide (the Canada Border Services Agency) with a satisfactory level of assurance that his presence in Canada is not detrimental to the national interest.''
New Democrat MP Peter Julian said the documents contain many such allegations, but he said they aren't backed up by any facts.
"The documents very clearly undermine the government's case,'' said Julian. ``There is no evidence of any threat by Mikhail Lennikov to the national security of Canada.''
Julian called on the federal public safety minister, Peter Van Loan, to intervene and allow Lennikov to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds. If he's deported, Lennikov said his wife and child plan to stay in Canada, effectively splitting apart his family.
"The Immigration and Refugee Board and the courts have determined that Mr. Lennikov is not admissible to Canada under our laws,'' Van Loan said in a statement emailed to The Canadian Press.
"The removal of inadmissible individuals is key to maintaining the integrity of the immigration program and to ensuring fairness of those who come to this country lawfully.''
Van Loan has said in the past that the Immigration and Refugee Board had denied Lennikov permanent residence, and the Federal Court upheld that decision this past September.
Border officers have so far respected a convention not to enter the church to arrest Lennikov, who said he doesn't know how long he plans to stay in the church if he runs out of options to overturn the decision to deport him.
VANCOUVER - A New Democrat M-P is urging the Harper government to allow a former K-G-B agent to stay in Canada.
Peter Julian says there's no evidence at all that Mikhail Lennikov poses a threat to national security.
Lennikov, who says he worked as a translator, has been hiding in a Vancouver church for the past six months to avoid deportation.
Government documents that Julian helped unearth say there's no indication Lennikov has been involved in espionage activities in Canada.
But a government report noted that Canada and its allies are concerned about the recent expansion in the activities of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
It added that Lennikov has not provided a satisfactory level of assurance that his presence in Canada is not detrimental to the national interest.
If he's deported, Lennikov says his wife and child plan to stay in Canada, effectively splitting apart his family.
(The Canadian Press)