25 April 2012

Alleged former spy denied Canada visa

A Serbian man has been denied a Canada visa over allegations that he belongs to a secret police force in the former Yugoslavia that spied on Western governments.

Canada visa

A Serbian man has been denied a Canada visa on suspicion of being a former Communist spy.

Zoran Vukic, who worked as a communications attaché for the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Ottawa between 1998 and 2002, has been denied a Canada visa in a case that attempts to keep anyone connected with suspicious groups out of Canada.

Mr Vukic, who allegedly received and transmitted clandestine communications between Belgrade and Ottawa, has returned to his native Serbia although his wife Zorica remains in the country on a temporary work permit while she challenges Canadian immigration authorities over its ruling.

The couple were both refused permanent residency in Canada in March as an immigration officer deemed there was 'reasonable grounds' to believe Mr Vukic was a member of an 'organisation engaged in espionage'. The organisation, Sluzba za istrazavanje dokumentacije (SID) is believed to have spied on Western governments during Communist rule in what is now Serbia and Montenegro.

The group is accused of participating in the deaths and imprisonment of enemies of Yugoslavia and its Communist allies.

Mr Vukic's case has been ongoing since his first interview at Belgrade's Canadian embassy in 2005 when he first applied for residency for him and his family in Canada. Subsequent interviews over the intervening years have repeatedly requested further information to determine his involvement with the SID.

In 2007, Mr Vukic was informed there was reasonable suspicion he was involved with the SID and therefore ineligible for entry to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which prohibits foreign nationals suspected of espionage or an act of subversion from entering Canada.

The Vukic family have claimed they have been unfairly treated by Canadian immigration officials, although an immigration judge failed to be persuaded by Mrs Vukic's claims.

A Toronto based immigration lawyer, Sergio Karas, who is not involved in the case, has said the circumstances in Vukic's case are rare:

"The court interpreted the scope of this particular section of the legislation pretty widely and accorded the visa officer great deference in his conclusions that the person was in fact a member of this organisation," said Mr Karas.

"It's also noteworthy that the interpretation of who is a member is fairly wide as well."

The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people make their application to the Canadian Embassy.

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