The Dutch intelligence service said on Thursday it blocked a Russian spy posing as a trainee from accessing the International Criminal Court, which investigates war crimes in Ukraine.
The man used a Brazilian cover identity but was unmasked as a member of the Russian military intelligence GRU and refused entry in April as a “threat to national security”, the AIVD (General Service Intelligence and Security) in a statement.
The Dutch named him Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 36, saying he had pretended to be a 33-year-old Brazilian citizen named Viktor Muller Ferreira in his bid to gain access to The Hague-based ICC.
“The AIVD prevented a Russian intelligence officer from gaining access as a trainee at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague,” the AIVD statement said.
“The person in question works for the GRU of the Russian military intelligence service, but he used a Brazilian cover identity to travel from Brazil to the Netherlands.”
Secret access to the Hague-based ICC would be “very valuable to Russian intelligence” as they investigate both Ukraine and the 2008 Russian war in Georgia, he said.
“The illegal was supposed to begin an internship at the ICC, which would mean he would have access to the ICC building and systems,” the AIVD said.
If the Russian spy had succeeded “he could have gathered intelligence there and sought out (or recruited) sources, and arranged to gain access to the ICC’s digital systems”, he added.
“He could also have influenced the criminal proceedings of the ICC.”
The Dutch agency said it “considers him a threat to national security” and alerted immigration authorities ahead of his arrival.
“For these reasons, the intelligence officer was refused entry to the Netherlands in April and declared unacceptable. He was returned to Brazil on the first flight,” he said.
“The ICC has also been made aware of this case.”
There was no immediate response from the ICC, which opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine shortly after the Russian invasion on February 24.