Ottawa moves to deport alleged Russian spy
CTV.ca News Staff
Ottawa is moving swiftly to deport an alleged Russian spy arrested in a Montreal airport, by issuing a rarely used national security certificate.
It's the first time Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has used such a certificate.
"It was a situation where we felt we had no other way to act, and we feel we've done the right thing," Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Monte Solberg told CTV's Mike Duffy Live on Thursday.
The unidentified suspect was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services Agency on Tuesday. While CTV News has confirmed the man is Russian, Solberg would only say he was "reluctant to get into the particulars of the case."
The man was arrested at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Melissa Leclerc, a spokesperson for Stockwell Day, Canada's public safety minister.
According to unconfirmed reports, he was about to leave the country when he was nabbed. If true, former CSIS agent Michel Juneau Katsuya said that would be a significant success for Canada's intelligence agency.
It would be "a nice little coup for CSIS, because those kinds of spies are probably the most difficult ones to catch," he said.
Leclerc told The Canadian Press she could release few details about the case, because it is currently before the courts.
However, she said more information will be released as the case progresses.
Court documents made public Thursday accuse a foreign national "alleging to be Paul William Hampel" of engaging "in an act of espionage or an act of subversion."
The man is expected to appear in court on Wednesday. Although not convicted, his case is already being compared to that of past Russian spies captured in Canada.
"In 1945, a Russian cipher clerk actually defected to the Canadian side and revealed an extensive network of Canadian and British spies, who were helping the Russians with atomic secrets," reported CTV's Moscow Bureau Chief Ellen Pinchuk.
She added that 10 years ago, security officials investigated a married couple in Toronto who went by the names Ian Mackenzie Lambert and Laurie Brodie.
A CSIS investigation concluded they were actually Russian spies named Dmitriy Vladimirovoch Olshevskiy and Yelena Borisovna Olshevskaya. They had taken the identities of two dead Canadian children.
And two years ago, a pair of military officials in the Russian Embassy in Ottawa were charged with spying, and later deported.
Arrest not terrorism-related
Barbara Campion, a spokesperson for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, confirmed the man is in custody. He allegedly arrived in Canada illicitly several years ago.
"A security certificate has been issued under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act against a foreign national alleging to be a Canadian citizen named Paul William Hampel," Campion said.
"He is now in custody in Montreal. This is not a counter-terrorism case. More information will become available as the Federal Court process unfolds. Any speculation about the individual's other nationality is premature at this point."
The security certificate allows Canada to deport non-citizens who are suspected of posing a danger to Canada.
This is the first time Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has approved a national security certificate, and the first time it has been used since 2003, when alleged al Qaeda-trained sleeper Moroccan Adil Charkaoui was taken into custody.
According to reports, Hampel's methods in Canada matched the techniques used by the Russian intelligence agency's Directorate S, which runs the Russian spy network.
The national security certificate system has drawn criticism from human rights activists, lawyers and scholars.
The certificates have now been used in 28 cases, almost all involving terrorism or espionage, since 1991.
Former chief of strategic planning at CSIS, David Harris, says it is unlikely the public will learn much more when the suspect appears before a federal court judge.
"I don't think we're going to get the most intimate of details, no, not at all," he told CTV Montreal.
"We'll see a public version of the allegations that will be released by the federal court judge who is going to be responsible for reviewing the basis upon which cabinet will have declared this individual subject to a security certificate. Beyond that, though, we may see things settle more quietly between governments."
Dispelling the notion that espionage within Canadian borders went out of fashion with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Harris says there are likely several countries interested in spying on Canada.
They may be seeking information on conventional secrets such as military or political information, Harris told CTV Montreal.
"There are also influence operations where countries might try to influence their expatriates and émigré communities in Canada. Beyond that, there is a real appetite building among many countries for technological secrets," he said.
"They can be of use to industries of the sponsoring nations and these things can have values in the billions for the economies of those countries undertaking these operations."
The danger lies in confidential information reaching the wrong contacts, he warned.
"We shouldn't forget that it can be involved in terrorism to the extent that if you have countries like Iran involved in stealing secrets, technological ones, ones with implications for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, then of course that can wind up being invested in nuclear programs," Harris said.
"And those secrets can leak out and be used in the service of groups like Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies."
With a report by CTV's Graham Richardson and files from The Canadian Press
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