A Russian spy tried to infiltrate the International Criminal Court by impersonating a Brazilian student

A Russian spy tried to infiltrate the International Criminal Court by impersonating a Brazilian student

Cosmopolitan – It’s a story that could have been written by Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. Dutch intelligence services announced Thursday, June 16, that they had denied a Russian spy access as an intern at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is based in the Netherlands and is investigating war crimes in Ukraine.

If it had not been disclosed in time, the man would have gained access to the building and the court’s computers, to gather information and identify sources for the Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) account for which he works. In short, Dutch intelligence said he could have “influenced the criminal proceedings of the International Criminal Court”, which is investigating crimes committed in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, as well as the Russian war in Georgia in 2008.

The person was identified as 36-year-old Sergei Vladimirovich Cherkasov. Dutch intelligence said he impersonated a 33-year-old Brazilian under the name Victor Mueller-Ferreira to gain access to the International Criminal Court.

The Dutch news agency ANP reported that he was arrested in April at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from Brazil, and is scheduled to begin his training at the International Criminal Court after his acceptance. The agency said he was returned to Brazil on the first plane before being arrested by the Brazilian police.

Rare to challenge a spy ‘of this caliber’

The spy posed a “very severe potential threat”, because having one of his own inside the ICC would have been “of great value to Russian intelligence services”, Dutch intelligence has raised.

It is rare for an intelligence agent “of this nature” to be arrested, the agency quoted Eric Ackerbom, director general of AIVD, as saying. GRU has invested years in concealing the true identity. “It’s a huge effort,” Eric Ackerbom added, explaining that the spy’s discovery in April was only revealed now so as not to harm the investigation.

The Russian spy had carefully built an identity for several years by inventing a life down to the smallest detail, which the AIVD revealed in a document concerning his tastes and life path, written by himself in Portuguese. He supposedly had a turbulent relationship with his parents, an aversion to fish, admired his teacher, and was nicknamed “Gringo” because he “looked like a German”.

The Brazilian Federal Police said in a statement on Thursday that they arrested a man in April – who was not named – who was denied entry to the Netherlands because he was using a false identity document. “Using a sophisticated fraud system, he impersonated a Brazilian whose parents had died,” police said in a statement, adding that he was still in custody pending trial.

Threats taken ‘seriously’ by the International Criminal Court

The Russian spy arrived in Brazil in 2010 and lived in Ireland and the United States before returning to Brazil to prepare for his move to the Netherlands. He was scheduled to start a “six-month trial period at the International Criminal Court as a junior analyst in the Preliminary Examinations Department,” according to the Brazilian police.

The ICC said it was very grateful to the Dutch authorities for this “important and more generally the process of uncovering security threats,” said Sonia Rubla, a spokeswoman for the court, which has been investigating alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine from the outset. From the Russian invasion on February 24. “The International Criminal Court takes these threats very seriously,” she added.

This is not the first time that the Netherlands has revealed Russian intelligence operations on its territory, especially in The Hague, where there are several international courts and organizations. In 2018, Dutch authorities expelled four suspected Russian GRU spies they accused of trying to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that was investigating attacks in Syria.

See also on HuffPost: BLOG – Why Bashar al-Assad will never be tried before the International Criminal Court

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