The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

Russiagate: Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud due in US court today ‘living under an alias’

David Lindsay Thursday, 13 September 2018, 09:55 Last update: about 3 months ago

Maltese Professor Joseph Mifsud’s legal woes are mounting on both sides of the Atlantic, with him due to appear in court in Manhattan today to answer for his alleged role in the Trump-Russia Clinton email scandal and with an Italian court on Tuesday ordering the missing professor to return over €49,000 in overpayments from the University Consortium of the Province of Agrigento where he had once served as president.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the meantime, a person who described himself as a close associate of the highly-sought academic has insisted that Mifsud is actually alive and well and living under an assumed identity.

The US Democratic National Committee – which is suing Russia, the Donald Trump election campaign and WikiLeaks for interfering in the 2016 election – has suggested in court filings that the elusive Maltese professor at the centre of the campaign meddling investigation may actually be dead, according to the DNC’s lawyers.

The case, which is due to begin being heard today, is unrelated to Friday’s sentencing of Trump’s former foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to investigators about his contacts with Mifsud and the Russians.

The DNC said in a court filing on Friday that all the defendants in the case have been served with the complaint, “with the exception of Mifsud (who is missing and may be deceased).”

The filing did not offer any explanation as to why the Committee thinks the Russia-linked Maltese professor may not be alive, but noted that it “continues to monitor news sources for any signs of Mifsud’s whereabouts and will attempt service on Mifsud if and when he is found alive”.

The lawyers did not elaborate further in the court filing as to why they think Mifsud may be dead.

But a Swiss-German lawyer who has been described as a close friend and adviser of Mifsud’s called the allegation “nonsense.”

“I’m in a better mood today. I got it from really good sources. They say that he is alive, that he has another identity, and that he is staying somewhere, at a nice place,” Stephan Roh told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Sunday.

“I just this morning got a message, indirectly, that he is alive and that they have provided him with another identity,” added Roh, who did not identify his sources.

Roh, who co-owns Link Campus University in Rome, where Mifsud once taught, says Mifsud has denied to him directly that he spoke with Papadopoulos about Clinton emails.

In a recent self-published book, Roh claimed that, rather than being a Russian spy, Mifsud is associated with Western intelligence agencies.

Mifsud “had only one master: the Western Political, Diplomatic and Intelligence World, his only home, of which he is still deeply dependent,” Roh and his co-author, Thierry Pastor, wrote in ‘The Faking of Russia-gate: The Papadopoulos Case, an Investigative Analysis’.

“After careful consideration, yes, we must assume that the Professor was most probably part of the game, that he was in close relation to the Western intelligence world as well as to the Clinton network, and that today he is fully cooperating with and following the orders of easily identifiable intelligence agencies — and that he is certainly not a Russian spy,” he wrote.

Roh further described Mifsud’s association with Western intelligence agencies Sunday, saying the professor was not directly employed by them.

“Mifsud is not an employee of a specific agency. He is not a member of the MI6. He was working for them. But working for them does not mean he was a member of the team,” Roh said.

The suggestion that Mifsud may be dead was made on Friday, the very same day that Trump’s former foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced to two weeks in jail for lying to investigators about his contacts with Mifsud, who has been suspected of peddling dirt from Russian officials about Hillary Clinton.

 

 

It felt like a bomb dropped on me - Papadopoulos

Interviewed on Fox News on Tuesday, Papadopoulos said that when Mifsud told him about the Kremlin’s Clinton emails, “It felt like a bomb dropped on me”.

Speaking with Sean Hannity, Papadopoulos said his meeting with Mifsud, a “shady” professor during the campaign was about establishing better relations with Russia.

He said they had met randomly in Italy, and Papadopoulos said Mifsud told him he was connected to governments in Europe, including Russia. Papadopoulos said Mifsud invited him to a British hotel for breakfast, where the professor claimed he had information that the Kremlin had some of Clinton’s emails.

Noting she gave the information to Congress and the FBI, Papadopoulos’ wife said she knew the professor for five years through the European Parliament, and his background didn’t fit the narrative of a Russian agent.

 

Professor ordered to repay €50,000 to university

In the meantime, on Tuesday an Italian court ordered the missing 58-year-old to hand back more than €49,000 in overpayments from the University Consortium of the Province of Agrigento, a Sicilian institution of higher learning where he once served as president.

But the 27-page judgment gave few clues as to Mifsud's current whereabouts, which have been the subject of increasingly intense — and outlandish — speculation.

"Residence unknown," is what the judgment gives as Mifsud's address. It details fruitless attempts by Italian authorities to find Mifsud at an apartment in Rome, his former campus and in London.

Mifsud, a once-obscure Maltese academic who earned his PhD in comparative education, shot to international prominence after he was identified as the mysterious professor who told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails" during an April 2016 meeting in London.

Declassified memos authored by US lawmakers show that it was this meeting that eventually triggered the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. That probe was later taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, who on Friday scored his first sentencing of a Trump campaign aide when Papadopolous was ordered to spend 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Mifsud and others.

But while Papadopolous and others have hit the media circuit to defend themselves in the court of public opinion, Mifsud has gone to ground.

No one have been unable to locate him. His former associates say they have no idea where he is.

There was no hint of that in Tuesday's judgment, which was handed down by the Court of Auditors in Palermo. But if Mifsud had shown up in court, he might have saved himself some money: his two co-defendants got off on a mere technicality.

 

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

  • don't miss