Alleged Russian Spy Tried to Infiltrate War Crimes Court

Dutch authorities say man posed as Brazilian
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2022 6:20 AM CDT
Russian Spy Tried to Infiltrate War Crimes Court, Say Dutch
The exterior view of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 31, 2021.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(Newser) – Dutch authorities say they've stopped a Russian spy from infiltrating the International Criminal Court, which is investigating alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine and Georgia. The suspected operative of Russia's GRU military intelligence service posed as a 33-year-old Brazilian named Viktor Muller Ferreira, who'd successfully applied for an internship at the ICC in The Hague, according to the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD). He was actually Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, a 36-year-old Russian intelligence officer, who was flagged as a "potentially very high" threat upon arrival in the Netherlands from Brazil in April, per the Washington Post.

He was refused entry and returned to Brazil where he is held "subject to criminal action for fifteen uses of false documents," according to Brazilian police, who claim the man previously lived under his alias in the US and Ireland. An official at Johns Hopkins University confirmed a "Victor Muller Ferreira" enrolled in its School of Advanced International Studies in Washington in 2018 to pursue a master's degree in US foreign policy and graduated in 2020, per the Post. In fact, Johns Hopkins associate professor of international affairs Eugene Finkel tweeted that he wrote a "strong" letter of recommendation for the alleged operative for the ICC internship, adding "I will never get over this fact."

The AIVD said Cherkasov—who arrived in Brazil in 2010, per Reuters—"received a long and extensive training" and created a 4-page backstory for his alias that involved deceased parents including a mother who collected butterflies, a job history including work in a garage that smelled of "lubricant and vulcanised rubber" and featured a poster of Pamela Anderson, and a crush on a fictional geography teacher, CNN reports. "He concealed all his ties with Russia in general and the GRU in particular," AIVD said. Had he gained access to the ICC, he could have recruited sources, gained access to ICC's digital systems, and "might also have been able to influence criminal proceedings," the agency said. (Read more Russian spies stories.)

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