Accused Russian spy allegedly collected U.S. information on Ukraine warfare earlier than arrest

Washington — A suspected Russian intelligence officer who was arrested final 12 months after allegedly making an attempt to infiltrate the Worldwide Prison Courtroom was within the U.S. gathering data on U.S. overseas coverage earlier than his cowl was blown, in accordance with court docket paperwork filed Friday. 

Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, who lived beneath the alias Victor Muller Ferreira, was charged within the U.S. District Courtroom for the District of Columbia, for performing as an unlawful agent of a Russian intelligence service whereas he attended graduate college for 2 years in Washington. He additionally faces a number of fraud costs. 

Cherkasov has been imprisoned in Brazil for fraud since his arrest final April. Russia has been making an attempt to extradite him, claiming that he’s needed in Russia for narcotics trafficking. The FBI suspects Russia is utilizing the narcotics costs as cowl to convey its spy residence. 

Still photos from a 2017 video showing Sergey Cherkasov in the Moscow Airport.
Nonetheless pictures from a 2017 video exhibiting Sergey Cherkasov within the Moscow Airport. U.S. District Courtroom for the District of Columbia court docket paperwork

Turning into Brazilian

The prison criticism filed Friday reveals extra particulars about Cherkasov’s life undercover, from his time spent making a false identification in Brazil greater than a decade in the past to making use of for jobs within the U.S., together with some that required a safety clearance. 

In 2010, years earlier than his arrest, Cherkasov assumed his new identification in Brazil after acquiring a fraudulent delivery certificates, in accordance with court docket paperwork. From there, he created a fictitious childhood. 

His supposed late mom was a Brazilian nationwide and he spent a whole lot of time together with his aunt, who spoke Portuguese poorly and preferred exhibiting him outdated household pictures, in accordance with a doc that contained particulars of his cowl that have been discovered with him when he was arrested in Brazil. He attributed his distaste for fish — one thing peculiar for somebody from Brazil — to not with the ability to stand the scent of it as a result of he grew up close to the port. 

After years of dwelling together with his new identification, Cherkasov was accepted to graduate college in Washington and obtained a U.S. visa. Courtroom paperwork don’t identify the college, however CNN has reported he attended Johns Hopkins’ Faculty of Superior Worldwide Research. 

“There is no such thing as a higher and extra prestigious place for us to be,” he allegedly wrote to his handlers. “Now we’re within the big-boys league.”

The invasion of Ukraine

Close to the top of 2021, Cherkasov was allegedly sending messages about U.S. coverage on Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine to his handlers. 

“I used to be aiming to seek out out what are their recommendation to the administration,” he wrote in a single message after speaking together with his contacts at two assume tanks. 

The messages to the handlers included particulars on his conversations with consultants and knowledge he had gleaned from on-line boards or stories about Russia’s army buildup close to Ukraine’s border and NATO, court docket paperwork stated. 

Cherkasov’s subsequent cease was an internship with the Worldwide Prison Courtroom in The Hague. 

“The ICC was of specific curiosity to Russia in March 2022, after it obtained quite a few public referrals concerning human rights violations dedicated by Russia and its brokers throughout its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022,” the prison criticism says. 

However Cherkasov was refused entry as he arrived to start out the internship. He was arrested days later in Brazil for fraud. 

The prison criticism doesn’t say what tipped off Dutch intelligence to Cherkasov’s alleged espionage. But it surely does say FBI particular brokers met in individual with Cherkasov in 2022, although it doesn’t element beneath what circumstances. 

After his arrest, Brazilian authorities gave the FBI covert communications tools recovered from distant areas in Brazil that Cherkasov had allegedly hidden earlier than his departure to The Hague. 


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