- Gordon Corera
- BBC security reporter
A Russian spy has attempted to infiltrate the International Criminal Court, according to the Dutch security service.
The man used the name Victor Muller Ferreira and pretended to be Brazilian, but was refused entry when he arrived in the Netherlands for work.
The authorities point out His real name is Sergei Vladimirovich Cherkasov and he is a spy for the GRU, short forservice Russian military intelligencealso.
The man is said to have spent years building a false identity, before applying for an internship at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The Dutch security agency AIVD said that if the spy succeeded in capturing and infiltrating the organization, can cause truly ruin.
“The threat posed by this intelligence officer is potentially very significant,” the agency said in a statement.
For those who knew him, Victor Müller-Ferreira was a Brazilian with an interest in international affairs. But in fact, the International Mine Action Association claimed, he was a certain type of Russian spies known as “illegal”.
The term is used by the KGB to distinguish these officers from “legal” spies who disguise themselves as secret diplomats.
Very few in the world
Many countries use spies pretending to be ordinary people, but Russia has long specialized in this A kind of secret illegal agent who adopts a completely different nationality.
These spies pretend to be American, British, Canadian or Brazilian, in Ferrera’s case, so that they can move in circles where Russians are greeted with suspicion and thus find it more difficult for them to operate.
The IADL published an extraordinary document that Cherkasov is believed to have written around 2010, in which he described his false identity, perhaps to remember all its details.
The phrase “I am Victor Müller-Ferreira” can be read at the beginning of the text.
The discovery of the document indicates a remarkable degree of neglect on the part of the spy.
across four pages Review your family history.
“My father was a very friendly and open person, but to my surprise I found out that I blamed him for the death of my mother and my aunt and all the hardships and indignities I had suffered in my life,” Ferreira says.
He also mentioned that he had to go to Ireland to attend his father’s funeral.
It can take five to ten years to train an illegal agent and build his or her fake identity..
Given the challenges, there are not many illegal spies, perhaps as few as 30 from the GRU, according to Western estimates.
Russian intelligence has long focused on the ICC, and Ferreira is believed to have begun lobbying for an internship late last year.
The court’s importance has grown since Russia invaded Ukraine. On March 3, the International Criminal Court prosecutor opened an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine..
The ICC offers around 200 unpaid internships that give candidates the opportunity to “get to know the day-to-day working environment of the ICC and put their knowledge and experience to work under the supervision of professionals.”
The situation would have saved Cherkasov Valuable access.
“If the intelligence officer had succeeded in starting to work with the ICC, he could have been able to gather information, search for sources (or recruit) and have access to the ICC’s digital systems,” the agency said in a statement.
In this way he would have been able to make a significant contribution to the GRU. It could also have affected the criminal proceedings of the International Criminal Court.
The submission was a risk for the spy, but his superiors in Moscow must have decided it was worth the risk.
It is notoriously difficult to find illegal spies (the ICC is not believed to have discovered this spy) and the Dutch authorities did not say how he was identified.
The social media profiles reviewed by the BBC and believed to belong to Ferreira reveal an extensive list of friends, Including several international students from two institutions he appears to have attended: Johns Hopkins University in the United States and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
These friends now work for everything from investment bank Goldman Sachs to federal regulatory agencies in Washington. None of them will know for sure that their acquaintance was a Russian spy.
“He had an accent I couldn’t put it down. But it wasn’t Russian‘, an academic who was a professor at Ferreira told the BBC.
The spy is believed to have submitted an application to the ICC as early as September 2020, but his processing may have been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
Ferreira once said, “Brazil is underrepresented at the ICC, so this might be my chance!”
The profile indicates that Ferreira moved to Washington, DC in August 2018 and the record shows that Graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2020.
His social media posts reveal an eclectic mix of opinions, including some mildly critical of Russia, which can be interpreted as an attempt to continue building a false identity.
In one of his accounts, he appears to have published a report by investigative group Bellingcat about the discovery of online identities used by the GRU, a somewhat unusual move for someone now accused of being a GRU secret agent himself.
However, now that his true identity is discovered, his future as a secret spy is over.
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