From Canada.com Thursday, November 16, 2006
A suspected Russian spy has been arrested in Montreal as he was about to board a plane to leave the country, capping a Canadian counter-intelligence operation that suggests espionage is alive and well long after the Cold War.
The man, who had been living in Canada under the name Paul William Hampel, was taken into custody by Canada Border Services Agency officers at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The arrest came after two federal ministers signed a security certificate last Thursday declaring the man a danger to Canada for espionage, paving the way for his deportation.
It is the first security certificate approved by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The case is described as “highly sensitive,” and officials were saying little yesterday.
Investigators were trying to confirm the suspect’s true identity and the foreign intelligence agency he works for, but the case is being compared with a 1996 spy operation by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR.
Several security experts also said the description of the man’s activities in Canada matches the methods traditionally used by the SVR’s Directorate S, which runs a covert network of “illegals” – spies who are planted in foreign countries under deep cover.
Counter-intelligence officers at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had been working to identify the man, who had slipped illicitly into the country several legend,” years ago and maintained a low profile while developing a Canadian “or false identity.
“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,” CSIS spokesperson Barbara Campion said.
“Any speculation about the individual’s other nationality is premature at this point,” she added.
The Soviet KGB had an extensive spy program in Canada during the Cold War, but it did not end with the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The KGB’s successor, the SVR, has continued to covertly plant intelligence operatives abroad.
The Montreal operation is reminiscent of a case 10 years ago involving a married Toronto couple who called themselves Ian Mackenzie Lambert and Laurie Brodie.
A CSIS investigation concluded they were actually SVR spies named Dmitriy Vladimirovoch Olshevskiy and Yelena Borisovna Olshevskaya, who had stolen the identities of two dead Canadian children.
Officials say their assignment was to travel abroad for operations using their Canadian “legends.”
The latest arrest suggests that Moscow continues to target Canada, which it views as a convenient “legend” for its spies as well as a source of economic, technological and military secrets in its own right.
Formed in 1991, the SVR is the successor to the First Directorate of the notorious KGB. Its aim is to advance Russian interests by collecting military, economic, technological and NATO secrets.
Hat tip Once Upon a Time in the West