US charges Russian spy whose ICC ploy was foiled

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges this week against a Russian national who it accuses of working as an “illegal” agent for the Russian government, who allegedly tried to infiltrate the International Criminal Court using a fake Brazilian alias.

Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 37, is accused of being an agent for the Russian Intelligence Service. The indictment — charging him with acting as an agent of a foreign power, visa fraud, bank fraud and wire fraud, among other crimes — details his decade-long mission to gain information on the U.S. and other entities.

According to the DOJ indictment, Cherkasov adopted the Brazilian alias “Victor Muller Ferreira,” which he used starting in 2012 in Brazil. He used the alias to gain admission to Johns Hopkins University and moved to the U.S. in 2018. He left the country after getting his degree in 2020 and tried to gain employment at the International Criminal Court (ICC), but was turned away by Dutch officials when he tried to enter the country in 2022.

When he returned to Brazil, he was arrested on fraud charges. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail last July.

The federal investigation into Cherkasov was conducted by the FBI’s Washington field office, which coordinated with the bureau’s counterintelligence division.

“When foreign adversaries, such as Russia, send undercover operatives into the United States, we will find them and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew M. Graves in a statement. “Such adversaries seek to operate in secret to undermine our national security in ways that could jeopardize the safety of our citizens.”

The revelation of Cherkasov’s alleged plot to gain employment at the ICC comes as the court has issued a warrant this month for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of war crimes. It is also further investigating Russian officials for other crimes in its war against Ukraine.

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