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Russian spy tried to infiltrate war crimes tribunal, Dutch intelligence says

A Russian spy used a false identity to apply for an internship and attempt to infiltrate the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Dutch intelligence service claims.

Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov created an elaborate cover story going back years to try to enter the Netherlands as a Brazilian national to get the job at The Hague court in April.

“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.

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, where he faces legal action, he added.

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

ICC spokeswoman Sonia Robla said the court was grateful to Dutch authorities for the operation and the revelation of security risks. “The ICC takes these threats very seriously and will continue to work and cooperate with the Netherlands,” she said.

Dutch intelligence said Cherkasov had a long cover story that included a troubled family background, details of a club where he listened to trance music and his favorite restaurant that served bean stew.

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

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.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, but accusations of espionage are often met with denials.

Additional Reuters reports

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Post expires at 3:06am on Tuesday June 28th, 2022