Mikhail Lennikov, a former KGB agent who has been seeking asylum in Canada since 2009, is returning to Russia, Deutsche Welle reports.
Lennikov sought refuge inside a Lutheran Church in Vancouver six years ago, as Canada Border Services Agency refrain from entering places of worship to make arrests. He had been living in the church for six years.
According to his lawyer, Hadayt Nazami, Lennikov willingly surrendered to the authorities following negotiations with the Canadian border services.
Border officers escorted him to Toronto, where he boarded a flight to Moscow.
Lennikov worked for the KGB from 1982 to 1988. He first came to Canada in 1997 to work for the University of British Columbia on a study permit. He later applied for permanent residency, but his application was rejected.
Lennikov was scared of going back to Russia because he feared he would be charged with treason because he had revealed the names of KGB agents. According to Nazami, that no longer seems to be the case but he said ” I can only hope he is safe,” according to CBC.
In 2009, Lennikov was ordered to be deported after Canadian authorities deemed him a threat to national security because of his role as a translator for the KGB in the 1980’s.
He had confessed his work with the spy agency in 1999 but claimed he did the work under pressure and also denied spying for the KGB.
Lennikov’s lawyer did not explain why he gave up his fight to stay in Canada but said he flew out of the country on Saturday.
The case had sparked some heated debate in Canadian politics with Canada’s New Democratic Party calling the case “a really wrong-headed immigration policy by this government,” according to DW. The Conservative Party argued that the decision to deport him was right since he was unwelcome in Canada because of his past.
His wife and son who are both Canadian citizens are expected to stay in Canada.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.