I was doing boring fundamental research at the National Research Council of Canada.  A conference on a related topic was organised in New Hampshire, so the boss, a couple of other scientists and I drove down there.  The conference was typically uninteresting, but while we were there we met a Russian scientist called Lev Gregorevitch Khvostantsev.  He asked the boss if he could come and work in our laboratories as part of some scientific exchange scheme and the boss said that would be fine.

So a few months later, Lev arrived in Ottawa and started work at the NRC, sharing a lab with me.  He seemed a nice enough bloke so I invited him round for drinks a few times.  He brought some excellent Russian vodka, so that was fine.

However after a few months, he asked me if I could help him get some information from another government lab in Ottawa - he said he would pay me!

Whoa!!!!!   I reported this conversation to the boss and he called the RCMP.

Within a few hours, a couple of mounties were at my apartment.  Turned out this other lab was involved in defence work.

The mounties asked me to play along with Lev.  They took away the various bottles of drink that Lev had given me for fingerprinting etc., and gave me replacement bottles so Lev would not be suspicious if he came round.  Over the next few weeks, the mounties fed me documents from the defence lab, which I passed on to Lev and he paid me for.  These were low level documents - not really important information, of course.  Lev gave me money and more bottles of drink, which I handed over at clandestine meetings with the mounties - standing on street corners in the snow waiting for a car to zoom up and whisk me away etc.

After a while, the mounties decided they had just about enough evidence and said they wanted to do a final handover of real classified document and then immediately arrest him with it in his possession.  However the Minister of the Interior or whatever decided he didn't want a show trial and ordered Lev's arrest the day before the planned handover.  One of the mounties called me in the lab and said "Is he there?"  When I said no, he was relieved - it meant that they had arrested the right person :-)

Apparently the arrest didn't quite go as planned - the mounties were waiting for Lev
at the bus stop near the NRC, but it was the wrong stop - Lev used the other stop nearby.  So the mounties had to go running from one stop to the other - no easy with so much snow and ice on the ground.  Sounds as if it was a bit like a Keystone Cops movie :-)

Anyway, Lev was immediately deported back to Russia, without a trial.  Of course the Russians denied all knowledge of Lev (liars!) and various Canadian politicians spouted all sorts of nonsense about what happened.


After it was all over, the mounties brought back all the bottles of booze they had taken away, but let me keep the duplicates as well, so I did pretty well out of that deal.  I was just disappointed I never got offered any beautiful Russian women like James Bond gets :-)

Spycatcher the brief version