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31/07/2023 | Brazil judges block international requests to extradite alleged Russian spy

Joseph Fitsanakis

THE BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT IS blocking requests from the United States and Russia to extradite an alleged Russian deep-cover spy, whose forged Brazilian identity papers were discovered by Dutch counterintelligence.

 

Sergey Cherkasov was expelled by authorities in the Netherlands in June 2022, after he attempted to enter the country using a Brazilian-issued passport under the name of Victor Muller Ferreira.

Within a few days of his expulsion, Dutch and American counterintelligence had outed Cherkasov as an intelligence officer of the Main Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, which is commonly known as GRU. Cherkasov is alleged to have built his forged identity over several years, while operating in Brazil and the United States. Upon returning to Brazil, Cherkasov was sentenced to 15 years in prison for using forged Brazilian identity documents.

Last week, Cherkasov’s sentence was reduced to 5  years, after a court in Brazil dropped some of the initial charges that had been filed against him by the Brazilian government prosecutor’s office. Cherkasov’s lawyers are now arguing that their client does not pose a flight risk and should therefore be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence outside of prison, wearing an electronic tagging device.

These recent developments are of concern to authorities in the United States. The latter have filed an extradition request for Cherkasov, claiming that he spent several years as a graduate student in an American university while using his forged Brazilian identity papers. During that time, Cherkasov is alleged to have repeatedly communicated with his Russian intelligence handlers, supplying them with information about American politics and policy.

However, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of Brazil said on Friday that Washington’s extradition request had been denied and that Cherkasov would remain in Brazil. The apparent reason for the denial is that Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court had already approved a similar extradition request for Cherkasov, which was filed in April by the Russian government. Moscow claims that Cherkasov is wanted in Russia for narcotics trafficking. The Russians also deny that the alleged spy worked for the GRU or any other government agency.

Yet, despite claims to the contrary, the Brazilian government appears to be essentially stalling on Moscow’s extradition request. On Friday, Flávio Dino, who serves as Minister of Justice under the administration of President Inácio Lula, stated that Cherkasov would continue to serve his prison sentence in Brazil until further notice. In the United States, CBS News reported that Cherkasov’s extradition to Russia would take place “only […] after the final judgment of all of his cases here in Brazil” has been issued, according to the accused spy’s lawyers.

Intelnews.org (Estados Unidos)

 



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