The accused Russian spy allegedly collected US information on the Ukraine war before his arrest
Washington — A Russian intelligence officer suspected of being arrested last year after allegedly trying to infiltrate the International Criminal Court in the United States was gathering information about US foreign policy before his cover was blown, according to court documents filed yesterday.
Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, who lived under the pseudonym Victor Mueller-Ferreira, has been charged in US District Court for the District of Columbia with acting as an illegal agent of a Russian intelligence service while attending two-year graduate school in Washington. He also faces numerous fraud charges.
Cherkasov has been imprisoned in Brazil for fraud since his arrest last April. Russia is trying to extradite him, claiming that he is wanted in Russia for drug trafficking. The FBI suspects Russia is using the drug charges as a cover to bring its spy home.
A criminal complaint filed Friday reveals more details about Cherkasov’s life undercover, from the time he spent creating a fake identity in Brazil more than a decade ago to applying for jobs in the United States, including some that required a security clearance.
In 2010, years before his arrest, Cherkasov assumed his new identity in Brazil after obtaining a fake birth certificate, according to court documents. From there, he created a fictional childhood.
His supposedly late mother was a Brazilian citizen and spent a lot of time with an aunt who spoke poor Portuguese and liked to show him old family photos, according to a document that contained details of his cover that was found with him when he was arrested. in Brazil. He attributed his dislike of fish—which is strange for someone from Brazil—to his inability to tolerate its smell because he had grown up near a port.
After years of living under his new identity, Cherkasov was accepted to graduate school in Washington and received a visa to the United States. Court documents do not name the school, but CNN has mentioned He attended the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
“There is no place better and more famous for us,” he allegedly wrote to his therapist. “Now we are in the adult league.”
Towards the end of 2021, Cherkasov was allegedly sending messages about US policy on a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine to his handlers.
“I aimed to find out what their advice to the administration was,” he wrote in one letter, after speaking with acquaintances at two think tanks.
The court documents said the letters to the officials included details about his conversations with experts, information he obtained from online forums or reports about Russian military build-up near Ukraine and NATO borders.
The next stop for Cherkasov was an internship at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“The ICC was of particular interest to Russia in March 2022, having received numerous public referrals regarding human rights violations committed by Russia and its agents during its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022,” the criminal complaint states.
But Cherkasov was refused entry when he arrived to start training. He was arrested days later in Brazil for fraud.
The criminal complaint does not say what informed the Dutch secret service of Cherkasov’s alleged espionage. But it says FBI special agents met personally with Cherkasov in 2022, though he doesn’t detail under any circumstances.
After his arrest, Brazilian authorities gave the FBI classified communications equipment recovered from remote locations in Brazil that Cherkasov had allegedly hidden before leaving for The Hague.