Netherlands claims Russian spy caught seeking internship at war crimes tribunal

  • Russian agent accused of impersonating trainee to infiltrate court
  • ICC investigates war crimes allegations in Ukraine
  • Brazilian fake ID included likes for trance music, bean stew

AMSTERDAM, June 16 (Reuters) – Dutch intelligence said on Thursday it discovered a Russian military agent attempting to use a false identity to infiltrate the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigating war crimes charges in Ukraine.

Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov created an elaborate cover story going back years to try to enter the Netherlands as a Brazilian national for an internship at the Hague-based ICC in April, the agency’s head told Reuters.

“It was a long-term, multi-year GRU operation that cost a lot of time, energy and money,” said Dutch intelligence agency chief Erik Akerboom, using the acronym of the Russian military intelligence service.

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No GRU representative could immediately be reached for comment, although President Vladimir Putin’s government has in the past frequently denied accusations of spying as a Western smear campaign against Moscow.

The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) said in a statement that the man, whose name was Viktor Muller Ferreira, had been picked up at a Dutch airport. He was declared an undesirable alien and put on the next flight back to Brazil, he added.

Brazilian Federal Police said Cherkasov was arrested and prosecuted for using false documents.

“It clearly shows us what the Russians are doing – trying to gain illegal access to information within the ICC. We classify this as a high-level threat,” Akerboom added, saying the ICC accepted it. for an internship.

There was no immediate comment on the case from the Russian government or the ICC.

‘WELL CONSTRUCTED COVER’

The Dutch agency said it had taken the unusual step of releasing detailed information about the case to expose the workings of Russian intelligence and the threat to other international institutions.

He distributed a four-page document describing what he said was the cover story invented by Cherkasov. This included a supposedly troubled family history and details of a club where he liked to listen to electronic trance music and his favorite restaurant in Brasilia where he ate cheap brown bean stew.

“Cherkasov used a well-constructed cover identity by which he concealed all his ties to Russia in general, and the GRU in particular,” the statement said.

Brazilian police say Cherkasov entered Brazil in 2010 and assumed the false identity of a Brazilian whose parents had died. Passing himself off as a Brazilian, he lived for several years in Ireland and the United States, the police statement said, and had returned to Brazil to prepare for his move to the Netherlands.

The ICC, a permanent global war crimes tribunal made up of 123 member states, opened an investigation in Ukraine just days after Putin dispatched its troops on February 24. It examines allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The Dutch have expelled more than 20 Russians accused of spying in recent years.

They include four people charged in 2018 with hacking into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), two charged with corporate and high-tech espionage in 2020, and 17 alleged agents accredited as diplomats who were expelled after this year’s attack. invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has denied all charges and responded to the latest deportations by also deporting 15 Dutch embassy and consulate staff from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Additional reporting by Anthony Boadles in Brasilia; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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