Canadian identity useful for spies

Fake documents look both official and unassuming

The Canadian identity card has become a preferred commodity in the shadowy world of international espionage, the Toronto Star reports. The arrest of Christopher Metsos, a purported Canadian citizen, at a Cyprus airport Tuesday brought an end to the initial police sweep of an alleged Russian spy ring busted Sunday in suburban America. Eleven people are now in custody facing what Moscow calls “baseless” American charges. The affidavit from an FBI officer charges that four of the 11 claim Canadian birth or citizenship, including one who allegedly took the identity of a Montreal infant who died in 1963. All are charged with spying, for a decade or longer, on the U.S. for Russia’s foreign intelligence agency while posing as average suburban couples in New York, New Jersey, Seattle and Virginia. The incident confirms how easy it can be to claim to be Canadian if you want to slip under the radar. It’s also a tactic that’s been used in the past by other countries. Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, tried to pass off two of its spies as Canadian tourists in 1997 while on a mission to kill a Hamas official in revenge for a suicide bombing in Israel. Another known incident occurred in 1973, when Mossad agents with Canadian papers killed a man in Lillehammer, Norway who they mistakenly believed was involved in the attack on the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Games in Munich. Although opposition party MPs called for the government to try to dissuade countries that maintain stables of overseas spies from using posing as Canadians, experts say there’s little chance of that happening. Tracing every last lost or stolen passport, birth certificate and driver’s license would require a massive bureaucratic effort.

Toronto Star