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Dutch intelligence service says prevented Russian spy from accessing ICC

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The Dutch intelligence service said Thursday it had stopped a Russian spy posing as an intern from accessing the International Criminal Court, which is investigating war crimes in Ukraine.

The man used a Brazilian cover identity but was unmasked as a member of Russia’s GRU military intelligence and refused entry in April as a “threat to national security,” the AIVD (General Intelligence and Security Service) said in a statement.

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The Dutch named him as Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 36, saying he had claimed to be a 33-year-old Brazilian citizen named Viktor Muller Ferreira in his bid to access the Hague-based ICC.

“The AIVD prevented a Russian intelligence officer from gaining access as an intern to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague,” the AIVD statement said.

“The person in question works for the Russian Military Intelligence Service GRU, but he used a Brazilian cover identity to travel from Brazil to the Netherlands.”

Covert access to the Hague-based ICC would be “highly valuable to the Russian intelligence services” as it is probing both Ukraine and the Russian war in Georgia in 2008, it said.

“The illegal was supposed to commence an internship with the ICC, which would mean he would have access to the ICC’s building and systems,” the AIVD said.

Had the Russian spy succeeded “he would have been able to gather intelligence there and to look for (or recruit) sources, and arrange to have access to the ICC’s digital systems,” it added. “He might also have been able to influence criminal proceedings of the ICC.”

The Dutch agency said it “holds him to be a threat to national security” and alerted the immigration services before his arrival.

“On these grounds the intelligence officer was refused entry into the Netherlands in April and declared unacceptable. He was sent back to Brazil on the first flight out,” it said. “The ICC has also been informed of this case.”

There was no immediate response from the ICC, which opened a probe into potential war crimes in Ukraine shortly after Russia’s invasion on February 24.

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