Suspected Russian spy was well-liked by classmates, but something just seemed a little off

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Gregarious, smart, and often seen toting a helmet for his beloved motorcycle, “Muller” was known, and even liked, by his fellow students and the faculty at SAIS. But his muddled accent caught the ear of a few classmates. On one occasion, a fellow student asked him outright: Are you Russian?

The spy brushed off the question. He was from Brazil, he said in what turned out to be part of the elaborate cover identity he spent years building.

“Looking back, it was a red flag,” the former classmate told CNN, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I remember thinking at the time it didn’t really make sense.”

“Muller” graduated from SAIS in 2020. Last week, a Dutch intelligence agency publicly identified him as Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, a Russian military intelligence officer who in April traveled to the Netherlands to start an internship at the International Criminal Court (ICC). From there, he would have had a perch to spy on war crimes…

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