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Donald Heathfield, Alleged Russian Spy, Stole Identity From Dead Man, Canadian Says

ROB GILLIES   06/30/10 01:27 PM ET   AP

Donald Heathfield

TORONTO — A Canadian man said an alleged Russian spy stole the identity of his dead younger brother.

The FBI said a man accused of being a Russian agent assumed the identity of Canadian Donald Heathfield, who died at six weeks of age in Montreal in 1963.

David Heathfield said Wednesday he went through the FBI court papers. He doesn't know how his brother turned up in the U.S. court files but he thinks the Russians singled out his brother's 47-year-old death notice in a Montreal newspaper

"Initially I thought it was a joke and then it turned to shock," Heathfield said.

U.S. prosecutors have charged Donald Heathfield and 10 other suspects with following orders by Russian intelligence to become "Americanized" enough to infiltrate "policymaking circles" and feed information back to Moscow.

Donald Heathfield worked for a management consulting firm and lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts – home to Harvard and MIT. Prosecutors said in 2004 Heathfield met with an employee of the U.S. government to discuss nuclear weapons research.

David Heathfield, 51, said his brother has the same birth date and name.

"With the Cold War over I thought this spy thing was over and done with, but I guess it's still going on," he said. "For somebody to be using my brother's name for 20, 30 years-plus ... it's kind of scary."

David's mother Shirley lost her son Donald to crib death. The news that Donald's identity was stolen hurt her. He said she was already dealing with the anniversary of his father's death last week.

"She was actually pretty upset because she's dealing with my dad first of all and then having to dig up Donald all over again," he said.

David Heathfield wants the Canadian government to contact him and worries he won't be able to travel to the U.S. in the future because of his family name.

He thinks it might be too easy for people to assume the identity of a Canadian. Court papers say two others among the 11 alleged spies taken into custody – Patricia Mills and Christopher Metsos – also claimed to be Canadian.

"Maybe they should come up with tougher laws to protect our identities," David Heathfield said.

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Filed by Nicholas Sabloff  |