What It's Like to Learn Mom and Dad Are Russian Spies

Two sons talk about bombshell FBI arrests
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2016 10:42 AM CDT
Updated May 14, 2016 8:10 AM CDT
What It's Like to Learn Mom and Dad Are Russian Spies
This image, dated approximately 2000, released by the FBI shows a surveillance photo of Tracey Foley of Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/FBI)

They seemed to be the most ordinary of American families: Dad Donald Heathfield, mom Tracey Foley, and their sons, Tim, 20, and Alex, 16. Then came the 2010 FBI raid on their home in Cambridge, Mass., and the revelation that mom and dad were actually deeply embedded Russian spies being rounded up with several others in a sweep. Six years later, Tim and Alex talk to the Guardian about the experience. They say their parents had never revealed their secret identities to them—dad was born Andrei Bezrukov and mom Elena Vavilova in the Soviet Union, and both were recruited in their 20s to serve their country in a "complex, slow-drip espionage operation." They moved to Canada first, where the boys were born, before settling in the US. “I never had anything close to a suspicion regarding my parents,” says Alex. “It seemed all my friends’ parents led much more exciting and successful lives.”

The brothers say they were stunned after the arrests and assumed it was all a big mistake, until the evidence began flooding in. Alex, now 21, is studying in Europe, while his brother works in finance in Asia. Both are speaking out because they want to regain their Canadian citizenship and return to that country permanently. Their parents are living freely back in Russia, having been returned there in a spy swap. It's not clear what information they gleaned for Russia, but they didn't exactly engage in Bond-style ventures. Heathfield worked in a consultancy firm in Boston, while Foley was a real estate agent. If it all sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the 2010 sweep is the basis for TV's The Americans. “Obviously it’s glamorized, all this killing people and action everywhere," says Alex. But he says his parents liked the show because it "reminded them of when they were young agents, and how they felt about being in a strange new place.” Click for the full story. (More spies stories.)

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