Canada court rules against former KGB agent

Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:35pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A Canadian court refused on Tuesday to intervene in the case of a former Soviet KGB agent who has sought sanctuary in a Vancouver church to avoid deportation.

The ruling upholds the Canadian government's decision that Mikhail Lennikov could not become a permanent resident in Canada because his past work as a Japanese translator for the former Soviet Union's spy agency made him a national security risk.

Lennikov, 49, came to Canada in 1997 with his wife and son on a student visa, and says he fully disclosed his work for the KGB to immigration officials when he applied to remain in the country permanently in 1999.

Lennikov says he will be in danger if forced to return to his native Russia because of the information he gave Canadian investigators about the KGB.

The Federal Court ruling is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Lennikov, who began living in the church in June so that immigration officers would not take him into custody and remove him from the country.

The government says Lennikov is not eligible to live in Canada because he worked for an espionage agency, even though he says he was a translator and not a spy.

Lennikov's request to remain in Canada has drawn the support of about two dozen opposition party lawmakers in Parliament.

Lennikov's wife and son were granted permanent residency in Canada on humanitarian grounds.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd, Editing by Peter Galloway)