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Ex-KGB agent leaves Vancouver church after 6 years avoiding deportation

A man who spent six years living in a Vancouver church to avoid deportation to Russia has voluntarily surrendered, his lawyer says.

Ex-KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov left Vancouver’s First Lutheran Church earlier this week after negotiations with the Canada Border Services Agency, and is no longer in Canada.

“He left at the end of this week, and left on his own accord, voluntarily, according to his own wishes and decisions he reached himself,” said Hadayt Nazami, his immigration lawyer.

He says the sanctuary of the church was not violated, and the CBSA did not enter.

“At the end of the day, he made the decision to go into sanctuary, and it was his own decision to leave sanctuary.”

Lennikov was ordered to be deported on June 3, 2009 because of his past with the KGB as a translator in the 1980s. He openly confessed his role with the infamous Soviet spy agency to the Canadian government in 1999 and said he did the work under pressure.

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He had taken sanctuary in the church a day before the order, and had stayed there since.

Lennikov previously said he feared being tried for treason in Russia, but Nazami indicated that no longer seems to be the case.

“It’s something that I cannot comment on, but Mr. Lennikov feels he will be safe. And we’re going by that assumption.”

His wife and children, now Canadian citizens, are expected to stay in Canada.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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