Joseph Mifsud

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Joseph Mifsud
Born1960 (1960)
Disappeared6 November 2017 (aged 56–57)
Rome, Italy
NationalityMaltese
EducationUniversity of Malta (BA)
University of Padua (MA)
Queen's University Belfast (PhD)

Joseph Mifsud (born 1960)[1] is a Maltese academic, with reportedly high level connections to the Russian government.[2] In 2016, he became involved with George Papadopoulos, an advisor to the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and was later accused of being a link between that campaign and Russia. In 2018, he was described as missing, and an Italian court listed his location as "residence unknown".[3]

Education[edit]

Mifsud holds a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Malta (1982) and a master's degree in education from the University of Padua (1989).[1] He was awarded a PhD in 1995 from Queen's University Belfast; his thesis was titled "Managing educational reform: a comparative approach from Malta (and Northern Ireland); a headteachers' perspective".[4]

Career[edit]

From 2006 to 2008, Mifsud served as the chef de cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta.[1] He later became a principal in the London Centre of International Law Practice. In 2008, he was named President of the Euro-Mediterranean University of Slovenia (EMUNI).[1][5] He was a professorial teaching fellow at the University of Stirling in Scotland,[6] as well as director of the London Academy of Diplomacy, where he served as director from 2012 until it closed in 2016. The academy was partnered with the University of Stirling.[7][8][9] He has also served as president of the University Consortium of the Province of Agrigento in Sicily; in September 2018, an Italian court ordered him to repay the Consortium 49,000 euros ($56,700) in overpayments.[3]

In a 2017 interview, he claimed to be a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR),[10] although the ECFR website in 2018 did not list him as a member.[11] He regularly attended meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual conference held in Sochi, Russia, backed by the Kremlin and attended by Vladimir Putin.[12] According to a BBC report, Mifsud was in Moscow in April 2016 to speak on a panel run by the Valdai Club alongside Dr. Stephan Roh, a German multimillionaire lawyer and investor described as a "wheeler-dealer" by the BBC Newsnight program.[13] Roh, Mifsud's former employer,[14] could not be reached for comment by the BBC and has since attempted to erase links between the two men on his company website. Another speaker at the Valdai Club was Ivan Timofeev, who works for a think tank close to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whom Mifsud subsequently introduced to Papadopoulos via email.[13] Mifsud reportedly claimed to his former girlfriend that he was friends with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.[15] Mifsud himself denied having any contact with the Russian government, saying "I am an academic, I do not even speak Russian."[6]

Connection to George Papadopoulos[edit]

In March 2016, shortly after Papadopoulos was named as a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, Mifsud met Papadopoulos in Rome. They later met in London, where Mifsud allegedly introduced Papadopoulos to a Russian woman that he falsely claimed was Putin's niece; Mifsud has denied the report.[6][12] At a meeting in April, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had learned the Russians were in possession of thousands of emails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos allegedly repeated the information to the Australian High Commissioner in London, Alexander Downer, who later reported to American authorities that Papadopoulos had apparently known about Russia's theft of emails from Democratic sources before it was publicly reported. Papopoulos has since publicly denied any recollection of this topic with Downer. The FBI then launched an investigation into possible connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.[16]

Volume 1 of the Mueller Report[17] states that Mifsud travelled to Moscow in April 2016, and upon his return told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. It also mentions that Papadopoulos "suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton". This is would appear to corroborate the contact with Downer.

According to Mifsud, he was interviewed by the FBI in February 2017 while visiting the United States to speak at a conference.[18][19] The FBI has not confirmed that they interviewed him, but he is listed as a featured speaker at the February 2017 national meeting of Global Ties, an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.[20] Mifsud left the United States on 11 February 2017. Prosecutors with the investigation into Russian interference in the election suggested, in a 17 August 2018 sentencing memorandum for Papadopoulos, that they might have wanted to challenge, detain, or arrest Mifsud if Papadopoulos had told the truth about their interactions.[21]

Connection to Stephan Roh[edit]

Stephan Roh, a Russian-speaking[22] German lawyer and multimillionaire with close ties to Russia, has worked alongside Mifsud for years. Papadopoulos's wife, who briefly worked for Mifsud, has described Roh as Mifsud's lawyer, best friend, and funder. Roh owns multiple businesses, many headquartered in Moscow or Cyprus; he also co-owns Link University, where Mifsud taught. Roh was detained and questioned by investigators on Robert Mueller's Special Counsel team in October 2017.[23]

Missing report[edit]

According to a filing in a U.S. federal court in the case Democratic National Committee v. Russian Federation in September 2018, Mifsud "is missing and may be deceased". Mifsud's whereabouts were unknown and he could not be served with the complaint.[24] He spoke to his girlfriend on 31 October 2017. The next day an Italian newspaper revealed that the "professor" referred to in news reports about Papadopoulos was Mifsud, and she has not heard from him since then.[25] According to CNN, he has "gone to ground" and was last seen on 6 November 2017 at Link University, a private university in Rome where he was teaching at the time.[18] In September 2018, an Italian court described his location as "residence unknown".[3]

In September 2018, a few days after the DNC filing, his associate Stephan Roh told The Daily Caller that he got an indirect message from "really good sources" indicating that Mifsud is alive and living under a new identity.[26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "CV Speakers" (PDF). European Parliament. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  2. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole; Savage, Michael (4 November 2017). "Boris Johnson in spotlight as questions raised over Russian influence on UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Satter, Raphael; Piovano, Carlo (12 September 2018). "Joseph Mifsud, Missing Academic in Trump Russia Probe, Hit With $56K Fine". NBC Washington. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Managing educational reform: a comparative approach from Malta (and Northern Ireland); a headteachers' perspective". British Library. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Dr. Joseph Mifsud: the New Role of the European Union". Euro-Mediterranean University. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Kirchgaessner, Stephanie; Phipps, Claire; Rawlinson, Kevin (31 October 2017). "Joseph Mifsud: more questions than answers about mystery professor linked to Russia". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  7. ^ Hardie, Warren (12 November 2017). "Revealed: Stirling University's ties to Academy run by Russia inquiry professor". Brig News. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  8. ^ Kumar, Anita, Goldstein, David & Hall, Kevin G. (30 October 2017). "Three Republicans were still in the presidential race. The Russians only contacted one". McClatchy DC website Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  9. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (11 November 2017). "Boris Johnson met 'London professor' linked to FBI's Russia investigation". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Russiagate, mystery professor Joseph Mifsud speaks out: "Dirt on Hillary Clinton? Nonsense"". 1 November 2017.
  11. ^ "ECFR Council Members". European Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  12. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, David D. (31 October 2017). "The Professor Behind the Trump Campaign Adviser Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  13. ^ a b Sweeney, John; Bowen, Innes (21 March 2018). "Joseph Mifsud: The mystery professor behind Trump Russia inquiry". BBC.
  14. ^ "RoH Attorneys at Law: The Firm". JonWorth.eu.
  15. ^ "The Professor At The Center Of The Trump-Russia Probe Boasted To His Girlfriend In Ukraine That He Was Friends With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov". BuzzFeed News. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  16. ^ LaFraniere, Sharon; Mazzetti, Mark; Apuzzo, Matt (30 December 2017). "How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  17. ^ Mueller, Robert S (18 April 2019). "Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In the 2016 Presidential Election" (PDF).
  18. ^ a b Lister, Tim; Robertson, Nic (November 10, 2017). "Academic at heart of Clinton 'dirt' claim vanishes, leaving trail of questions". CNN. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  19. ^ Brera, Paolo G. (1 November 2017). "Russiagate, mystery professor Joseph Mifsud speaks out: "Dirt on Hillary Clinton? Nonsense"". La Repubblica. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  20. ^ Cleveland, Margot (15 May 2018). "This Maltese Professor May Hold The Key To When The FBI Really Began Surveilling The Trump Campaign". The Federalist. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Document: George Papadopoulos Sentencing Memo". 17 August 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Roh Law website".
  23. ^ Bertrand, Natasha (14 May 2018). "Mueller's Probe Is Even More Expansive Than It Seems". The Atlantic.
  24. ^ Schneider, Joe (7 September 2018). "DNC Lawyers Say Papadopoulos's U.K. Contact May Be Dead". Bloomberg News.
  25. ^ "Professor at Center of Trump-Russia Probe Goes Missing". The Daily Beast. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  26. ^ Ross, Chuck (10 September 2018). "DNC said Joseph Mifsud could be dead - his advisor pours cold water on the theory". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 26 September 2018.