Canadian immigration officials are trying to deport a man who has lived in Winnipeg for a decade, based on allegations that he's a former KGB spy.

A local media report cites a federal government source who says the man, who is in his late 60s, was previously affiliated with the former Soviet secret police agency.

The man's lawyer, Ken Zaifman, denies the claim that his client was a KGB agent.

"That's inaccurate," he told CBC News on Tuesday. "I can't tell you in what way."

He wants to know why someone within the government leaked the man's private information.

Ken Zaifman

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Ken Zaifman says reported claims that his client is a former KGB agent are not true. Zaifman said he wants to know why someone within the government leaked his client's private information. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

"This, in my experience, is highly unusual for details of someone in a hearing to be released to the press," he said.

"We'll be taking steps through CBSA, asking them to look into the source of this release of information," he added, referring to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Zaifman would not reveal his client's name, nor would he say where the man came from.

All he would say is that his client was granted refugee status years ago, has lived in Winnipeg for about 10 years, and wants to become a permanent resident.

"He's settled, he's hard-working and has been here for many years and is well-established in the community," Zaifman said.

The man has a immigration hearing coming up, which Zaifman said is part of the process to apply for permanent residency.

"It's some concern when you find a story in a local newspaper which potentially could impact on your being able to stay in Canada," he said.

The hearing is expected to take place within weeks, but Zaifman would not say when it's scheduled to happen.

"All I can tell you is that there is a hearing that is scheduled to determine whether there is any merit to the government's position — that he should be removed from Canada because of his affiliation with a government agency," he said.

"I think you have to disabuse yourself of anything you've recently seen in TV or on the movies of some nefarious agent. This is much more innocuous than that."

Zaifman said the government's allegations against his client have nothing to do with his life in Winnipeg.

No one from the federal government has responded to CBC News' requests for comment on Tuesday.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former Canadian Security Intelligence Service senior officer and manager, said the current situation involving Russia and Ukraine might help the man's case.

"He claimed refugee status here. He had to demonstrate that his life was in danger," Juneau-Katsuya said.

"Definitely Russia behaving the way they are currently might actually play in his favour, to demonstrate that the regime he might be returned to is an hostile regime."

If the man is proven to have ties to the KGB, he must be deported, according to the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"The laws of this country are clear. He shouldn't have been accepted in the first place," said Roman Zakaluzny, the association's chairman.

Zakaluzny said the KGB is on a blacklist of organizations responsible for the deaths of millions of people, so he wonders why Canada waited to long to examine the man's case.

"That blacklist very definitely includes the KGB and all forerunners," he said.

"We were a little bit surprised that this person has been here for as long as he or she has, but we're glad the government's acting. Better late than never."