The passport of a mysterious Maltese academic implicated in the leaking of Hillary Clinton’s emails to the Trump campaign and accused of being a spy, turned up in a lost and found office in Madeira, it is claimed.
Joseph Mifsud, 59, an enigmatic law professor with links to universities in the UK and Italy, has not been seen in public for two years.
His apparent disappearance is one of the strangest aspects of the scandal over alleged Russian interference in the US election process.
His passport and wallet were handed to a lost and found office in Madeira airport in August 2017 and languished there for 17 months, according to BuzzFeed News.
They were found in the coastal town of Câmara de Lobos on the coast of Madeira in August 2017 – three months before Prof Mifsud vanished – and presumably handed in to the authorities.
Six months previously, he had been questioned by the FBI about allegations of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.
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It is not known whether the passport and wallet had been lost or were dumped but the academic was successfully issued with a new passport, on which he traveled to Moscow, according to BuzzFeed.
Prof Mifsud held meetings with George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, on several occasions in the spring of 2016.
They met at Link Campus, a private university in Rome where Prof Mifsud worked.
According to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into alleged Russian interference in the US election, in April of that year Prof Mifsud had found out during a trip to Moscow that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on Mrs Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.
The last time Prof Mifsud was seen in public was November 2017, when he was spotted in Rome and spoke to a journalist from La Repubblica, an Italian daily.
He disappeared within days of being identified as an allegedly key player in the leaking of the Clinton emails to the Trump campaign.
It has been claimed Prof Mifsud was working as a Russian spy, notably by James Comey, the former FBI director, who referred to him as a “Russian agent” in an opinion piece in The Washington Post in May this year.
Last month, two Italian newspapers and a news agency received audio recordings purporting to be of Prof Mifsud, in which he denied having any links to intelligence agencies.
In the November 11 recording, he denied being an intelligence agent. His alleged involvement in the Trump campaign had been “blown up”.
“I have been a networker all my life and this what I’m good at. I try to bring one group in contact with another – not, I repeat, nobody in any secret service or intelligence service or anybody of this sort.”
He said it had never been his intention to pass information “from one side to the other.”
He said he had been living in hiding, “without human contact”, and was hoping to be able to “come back to life”.
Voice analysis suggested the recording was made by Prof Mifsud and his former girlfriend also said she thought it was authentic.