Moscow says Netherlands spy case an anti-Russia smear

·1-min read

LONDON (Reuters) - Moscow accused the Netherlands on Friday of an "anti-Russian campaign" after Dutch authorities announced the detention of a man they said was a Russian spy trying to infiltrate the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Dutch intelligence service said on Thursday it had uncovered a Russian military agent using a false identity to seek an internship at the ICC, which is investigating accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.

Russia's foreign ministry said the Netherlands was "planting information" to whip up a scandal and "scare the public with talk of 'insidious machinations' of the Russians."

Moscow regularly accuses Western governments of "Russiaphobia," including in response to numerous accusations of spies targeting European organisations and academic institutions over the last decade.

"The anti-Russian espionage campaign unleashed in the country (the Netherlands), accompanied by purposeful 'leaks' of dubious content, does not cause anything but damage to the already bad bilateral relations," the statement added.

The ICC said it had uncovered a years-long operation by Russia's GRU military intelligence service to plant an agent in under cover as a Brazilian seeking an internship.

"It is significant that the incident occurred in early April, and the Dutch authorities only decided to report it three months later," the Russian statement said.

It accused the Netherlands of releasing the information to try and boost support for the ICC investigation into accusations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. Human rights organisations have documented "apparent war crimes" committed by Russia, and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in April she believed that Russia's actions appeared to constitute war crimes.

Moscow denies targeting civilians.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Cawthorne)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting