Link Campus University Rome

September 27, 2019 – Italian officials provide an audio recording of Joseph Mifsud’s deposition to AG Barr

(Credit: Communities Digital News)

“Attorney General William Barr reportedly listened to an audio recording of the mysterious professor at the center of the special counsel’s probe during a surprise trip last week to Italy.

Barr met with Italian intelligence officials during the trip, The Daily Beast reported citing Italian officials, and John Durham accompanied him. Durham is a federal prosecutor who is leading an inquiry into FBI and CIA intelligence-gathering activities related to the Trump campaign.

A source in Italy’s Ministry of Justice said that Italian officials played a tape for Barr and Durham, according to The Daily Beast. Another source said the Italians showed the U.S. officials other evidence related to Joseph Mifsud, who was once a Maltese diplomat and has held university positions in the U.K. and Italy.

The tape was a deposition that Mifsud gave after applying for police protection explaining why he might be in harm’s way, according to The Beast. The report said Italian Ministry of Justice records show that Mifsud applied for police protection.

Mifsud was scrutinized in the special counsel’s investigation because of his relationship in 2016 with George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide. Papadopoulos said Mifsud told him during an April 26, 2016 meeting in London that he had learned from Russian government officials that Russia had “dirt” on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.

(…) The special counsel portrayed Mifsud as a possible Russian agent; however, the Malta-born mystery man also has close ties to Western diplomats. He has visited the U.S. State Department and held a position at Rome’s Link Campus University, which has close ties to Western intelligence agencies.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/02/2019)  (Archive)

July 23, 2019 – Durham’s team reaches out to Mifsud to review a deposition he gave last year that suggests he was instructed to put Papadopoulos in touch with Russians

United States attorney for Connecticut, John H. Durham (Credit: Bob Child/The Associated Press)

“While most of the political world focused its attention elsewhere, special prosecutor John Durham’s team quietly reached out this summer to a lawyer representing European academic Joseph Mifsud, one of the earliest and most mysterious figures in the now closed Russia-collusion case.

An investigator told Swiss attorney Stephan Roh that Durham’s team wanted to interview Mifsud, or at the very least review a recorded deposition the professor gave in summer 2018 about his role in the drama involving Donald Trump, Russia and the 2016 election.

(…) For those who don’t remember, Mifsud is a Maltese-born academic with a VIP Rolodex who frequented Rome and London for years and engaged at the highest levels of Western diplomatic and intelligence circles.

Mueller’s team alleges that Mifsud is the person who fed a story in spring 2016 to Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos about Moscow possessing purloined emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was the earliest known contact in the now-debunked collusion narrative and the seminal event that the FBI says prompted it on July 31, 2016, to open its probe into the Trump campaign.

Joseph Mifsud is introduced as the Director of the London Academy of Diplomacy, by Dr. Ivan Timofeev, Programme Director of the Valdai Club Foundation in May, 2016. (Credi: Valdai Club/YouTube)

Mueller concluded that Mifsud was a person with extensive Russia ties who planted the story about the Clinton emails in Moscow and then lied about his dealings with Papadopoulos when interviewed by the FBI in 2017. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Mifsud.

(…) Conservative defenders of President Trump, including former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have raised recent concerns that Mueller’s portrayal of the Mifsud-Papadopoulos contacts doesn’t add up.

Roh told me the information he is preparing to share with Durham’s team from his client will accentuate those concerns.

Mifsud was a “longtime cooperator of western intel” who was asked specifically by his contacts at Link University in Rome and the London Center of International Law Practice (LCILP) — two academic groups with ties to Western diplomacy and intelligence — to meet with Papadopoulos at a dinner in Rome in mid-March 2016, Roh told me.

May 2019 letter from Nunes to U.S. intelligence officials corroborates some of Roh’s account, revealing photos showing that the FBI conducted training at Link in fall 2016 and that Mifsud and other Link officials met regularly with world leaders, including Boris Johnson, elected today as Britain’s new prime minister.

A few days after the March dinner, Roh added, Mifsud received instructions from Link superiors to “put Papadopoulos in contact with Russians,” including a think tank figure named Ivan Timofeev and a woman he was instructed to identify to Papadopoulos as Vladimir Putin’s niece.

Mifsud knew the woman was not the Russian president’s niece but, rather, a student who was involved with both the Link and LCILP campuses, and the professor believed there was an effort underway to determine whether Papadopoulos was an “agent provocateur” seeking foreign contacts, Roh said.

The evidence, he told me, “clearly indicates that this was not only a surveillance op but a more sophisticated intel operation” in which Mifsud became involved.” (Read more: The Hill, 7/23/2019)

May 30, 2018 – Is Joseph Mifsud a Russian spy? A deeper look…

(…) “If Joseph Mifsud truly is a Russian agent, it is odd that neither the Western intelligence agencies he snookered nor the U.S. government is acting as if he is.

For instance, the FBI interviewed Mifsud in Washington, D.C., between Feb. 8-12, 2017, less than two weeks after its first interview with Papadopoulos, on Jan. 27, when he admitted to meeting Mifsud and talking about Hilary Clinton emails.

Mifsud was in Washington to speak at the large annual conference for Global Ties U.S., an organization that has been a partner of the U.S. State Department for over 50 years. Several State Department officials also spoke at the conference. France’s ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, was one of several foreign envoys to the United States who lectured at the 2017 event.

So why did the FBI not arrest Mifsud? The State Department declined to comment when RCI emailed to ask why it did not prevent its officials from appearing at an event with a “Kremlin-linked” figure who was key to Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 election.

Joseph Mifsud (left) appears with British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, at a Conservative Party fundraiser outside of London on October 19, 2017. (Credit: public domain)

If Mifsud was a Russian spy, it’s unclear why after Papadopoulos’ July 27, 2017 arrest that no U.S. intelligence officials warned their European partners that they were hosting a foreign agent on their territory.

Mifsud met with many senior British politicians, even after the FBI knew of the Downer conversations, and had interviewed Papadopoulos under oath.  Mifsud met Alok Sharma, then a Foreign Office minister for Asia/Pacific, and now minister of state for employment, “a couple of times” at least, including at a fundraiser Oct. 19, two weeks after Papadopoulos’ Oct. 5 guilty plea.

At that same fundraiser, Mifsud was photographed next to Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, the most senior intelligence official responsible for running MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence service, and Government Communications Headquarters, the UK equivalent of America’s National Security Agency.

The office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, declined to comment when RCI emailed to ask if it alerted the UK government about Mifsud after Papadopoulos’s arrest. British government agencies did not respond by press time to requests for comment about whether the UK had been warned by its U.S. partners about Mifsud before the foreign secretary and other senior politicians mingled with an alleged Russian agent.” (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 5/30/2018)

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Disobedient Media’s Elizabeth Vos dives even deeper:

“Over the last few months, Professor Joseph Mifsud has become a feather in the cap for those pushing the Trump-Russia narrative. He is characterized as a “Russian” intelligence asset in the mainstream press, despite his declarations to the contrary. However, evidence has surfaced that suggests Mifsud was anything but a Russian spy and may have actually worked for British intelligence. This new evidence culminates in the ground-breaking conclusion that the UK and its intelligence apparatus may be responsible for the invention of key pillars of the Trump-Russia scandal. If true, this would essentially turn the entire RussiaGate debacle on its head.

To give an idea of the scope of this report, a few central points showing the UK connections with the central pillars of the Trump-Russia claims are included here, in the order of discussion in this article:

  1. Mifsud allegedly discussed that Russia has ‘dirt’ on Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails’ with George Papadopoulos in London in April 2016.
  2. The following month, Papadopoulos spoke with Alexander Downer, Australia’s ambassador to the UK, about the alleged Russian dirt on Clinton while they were drinking at a swanky Kensington bar, according to The Times. In late July 2016, Downer shared his tip with Australian intelligence officials who forwarded it to the FBI.
  3. Robert Goldstone, a key figure in the ‘Trump Tower’ part of the RussiaGate narrative, sent Donald Trump Jr. an email claiming Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign. He is a British music promoter.
  4. Christopher Steele, ex-MI6, who worked as an MI6 agent in Moscow until 1993 and ran the Russia desk at MI6 HQ in London between 2006 and 2009. He produced the totally unsubstantiated ‘Steele Dossier’ of Trump-Russia allegations, with funding from the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
  5. Robert Hannigan, the head of British spy agency GCHQ, flew to Washington DC to share ‘director-to-director’ level intelligence with then-CIA Chief John Brennan.

Each of these strands of UK-tied elements of the Russiagate narrative can be substantially dismantled on close inspection. This untangling process leads to the surprising conclusion that UK intelligence services fabricated evidence of collusion in order to create the appearance of a Trump-Russia connection.

This trend begins with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese scholar with an eclectic academic history who Quartz described as an “enigma,” while legacy press has enthusiastically characterized him as a central personality in the Trump-Russia scandal. The New York Times described Mifsud as an “enthusiastic promoter of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia”, citing his regular involvement in the annual meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian-based think-tank, as well as three short articles he wrote in support of Russian policies.

Mifsud strongly denied claims that he was associated with Russian intelligence, telling Italian newspaper Repubblica that he was a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Clinton Foundation, adding that his political outlook was “left-leaning.” Last month, Slate reported Mifsud had ‘disappeared’, as did some of the other figures linking the UK to the Trump-Russia scandal. This aspect will be discussed in more detail below.

To contextualize Mifsud’s eclectic academic career in terms of intelligence service, it is helpful to note that research undertaken by this author and Suzie Dawson as part of the Decipher You project has repeatedly shown the close ties – an outright merger in many cases – between the intelligence community and academia. This enmeshment also takes place with think-tanks, NGOs, and in the corporate sphere. In this light, Mifsud’s brand of ‘scholarship’ becomes far less mysterious.

Mifsud’s alleged links to Russian intelligence are summarily debunked by his close working relationship with Claire Smith, a major figure in the upper echelons of British intelligence. A number of Twitter users recently observed that Joseph Mifsud had been photographed standing next to Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee at Mifsud’s LINK campus in RomeNewsmax and Buzzfeed later reported that the professor’s name and biography had been removed from the campus’ website, writing that the mysterious removal took place after Mifsud had served the institution for “years.”

WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange likewise noted the connection between Mifsud and Smith in a Twitter thread, additionally pointing out his connections with Saudi intelligence: “[Mifsud] and Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee and eight-year member of the UK Security Vetting panel both trained Italian security services at the Link University in Rome and appear to both be present in this photo.”

The photograph in question originated on Geodiplomatics.com, where it specified that Joseph Mifsud is indeed standing next to Claire Smith, who was attending a: “…Training program on International Security which was organised by Link Campus University and London Academy of Diplomacy.” The event is listed as taking place in October 2012. This is highly significant for a number of reasons.” (Read more: Disobedient Media, April 4, 2018)

Claire Smith stands with Joseph Mifsud on the left side of the back row. (Credit: Geodiplomatics)

April 23, 2018 – The Contradictions Surrounding Mifsud

“After the publication of Disobedient Media’s coverage of ‘eclectic scholar’ Joseph Mifsud’s unexamined ties to UK intelligence officials, this author was contacted by Chris Blackburn, a UK Political Analyst focusing on International Relations and Security, whose Twitter post instigated this writer’s research into the matter.

Chris Blackburn’s initial Tweets on the matter included of a photograph showing UK Joint Intelligence Committee member Claire Smith and Joseph Mifsud together at LINK Campus in Rome, where they collaborated on a training program involving Italian military officials. Disobedient Media was able to confirm the photograph’s authenticity, finding that the program was organized by the London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD), which Mifsud directed. The event took place in 2012 – a significant date because, at that time, Claire Smith was a member of the UK intelligence security vetting panel.

(Credit: Disobedient Media)

As Blackburn informed us, there is more to this story than is told by that single photograph, or by the October 2017 photograph of Mifsud standing with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The following discussion took place electronically.

(…) “When Joseph Mifsud’s name was leaked by The Washington Post as being the ‘professor’ named in George Papadopoulos’ court papers, bloggers and journalists took to Twitter to try to understand who he was. Everyone was looking for connections to Russia. They quickly found them. The London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP) had been working on hosting financial sanctions workshops, and LINK Campus in Rome and the London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD) had provided a vehicle for Mifsud to make connections with Russian universities and academics.”

“Before the story broke, I had heard of the London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP) where George Papadopoulos and Mifsud both worked. The relatively new legal firm had been trying to move into the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) sector in the UK. They had done some research into ISIS territorial gains in the Middle East and wrote a widely circulated report on the group. They also hosted a few seminars with [UK] Foreign Office types on terrorism. LCILP had also tried to reach out to a couple of Bangladeshi activists working on the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunals. I didn’t think much of it, but I couldn’t ignore it. Why would a suspected Russian intelligence front try to engage with Bangladesh’s War Crimes Tribunal from London?”

“I quickly found that LCILP’s director Peter Dovey had been a left-wing solicitor and set up a legal entity called the Police Station Defence Service (PSDS) along with Nagi Idris, another LCILP director, and an American-Mexican called George San Martin. George San Martin had been a major figure in left-wing activism in the US. The FBI should have found that.”

“While other researchers were looking into Mifsud’s academic links to Russia, I decided to conduct a more wide-ranging investigation. The London Academy of Diplomacy was being built up in the press as a shady operation. It wasn’t. British diplomats and Foreign Office ministers often visited LAD. Sir Tony Baldry, Alok Sharma MP and former Foreign Secretary William Hague all visited LAD or spoke at their conferences.”

“The Commonwealth and various governments, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, sent their diplomats to train there. Nabil Ayad, the founding director of LAD, had built up the academy as a respectable powerhouse in London’s diplomatic community. Counter-intelligence investigators would only be concentrating on Mifsud’s high-frequency contacts and associations. They would be examining people he worked with on a regular basis. As an academic working in diplomacy, Mifsud would have thousands of contacts. FBI investigators would be looking for intelligence ties.”

“Mifsud worked with diplomats and NATO allies, so they would need to know the potential damage he had caused. I found that two of Joseph Mifsud’s closest colleagues, who the FBI would have designated as high-frequency, were Claire Smith and Gianni Pittella. They had followed him between LAD, Stirling University and LINK Campus in Rome. Claire Smith was a former member of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). As a team, Smith and Mifsud trained Italian law enforcement on intelligence at LINK Campus in Rome. LINK Campus’ ties to the Italian Foreign Ministry and intelligence agencies had been quickly skimmed over by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Buzzfeed and The Guardian.”

Italian politician Gianni Pittella at Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign launch in Philadelphia, July 2016, “calling Donald Trump ‘a virus’ which needed to be stopped, while his close collaborator Mifsud was supposedly helping Trump’s campaign to conspire with Russia.” (Credit: Corriere Della Sera)

Gianni Pittella has known Mifsud for a while. They met at the European Parliament and have collaborated on numerous projects together. In July 2016Pittella gave a rousing speech at Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign launch in Philadelphia, calling Donald Trump ‘a virus’ which needed to be stopped, while his close collaborator Mifsud was supposedly helping Trump’s campaign to conspire with Russia. If the FBI had been doing a proper investigation into Joseph Mifsud, these two connections should have raised red flags immediately.”

“If Mifsud was working with western intelligence agencies that would be rather pertinent in an espionage scandal. Italian journalists have been slow to pick up the story, but they are now calling LINK Campus the ‘007 university’ because Vincenzo Scotti, a former Italian Foreign Minister, and director at LINK University, has been trying to defend himself from suggestions he’s in Russia or the CIA’s pocket.”

“The venue for the alleged acts of treachery involving Papadopoulos and Mifsud – LINK Campus Rome – should have set alarm bells ringing for the FBI’s counter-intelligence investigators. The CIA has a long history of working there. David Ignatius of The Washington Post even wrote about a CIA-sponsored event he attended at LINK Campus in 2004.” (Read more: Disobedient Media, 4/23/2018)

December 20, 2017 – The transcript of FBI’s Michael Gaeta is central to Russiagate

The U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy (Credit: Department of State)

(…) “While the public has heard the story of many of the interviewees before, one of the transcripts may be the most complete account yet from a key figure in what has come to be known as “Russiagate.” Specifically, his role in allowing the now infamous Steele dossier to become the cornerstone in the FBI obtaining a FISA spy warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and by extension—under the NSA’s so-called two-hop rule—other members of the Trump campaign. That figure is FBI agent Michael Gaeta.

Gaeta was, and possibly still is, the assistant legal attaché at the United States Embassy in Rome. Until 2014, he headed the FBI Eurasian Organized Crime unit.

It was Gaeta who, reportedly on July 5, 2016, traveled to London to meet with former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier. The trip was reportedly authorized by Victoria Nuland, then-assistant state secretary for Eurasian affairs.

(…) Mifsud was regularly rubbing shoulders with heavyweights of U.S. and European intelligence and security. He taught at the Link Campus University in Rome, which, among others, taught courses on intelligence and was frequented by U.S. and European defense, law enforcement, and intelligence officials—both current and former.

As a veteran professional of his stature, Gaeta must have been familiar with Link, which is headed by former Italian interior minister Vincenzo Scotti. Gaeta’s colleague from the embassy in Rome, FBI Special Agent Preston Ackerman, even gave a presentation at Link in September 2016, according to UK political analyst Chris Blackburn, who backed up the claim with a screen shot of a Sept. 9, 2016, Facebook post about the presentation, which appears to show Ackerman as the author of the presentation.

A Sep. 9, 2016, Facebook post by Link Campus University shared by its affiliated Facebook page Scientific Intelligence. The bottom photo appears to show the author of the presentation as Preston Ackerman of the Office of the Legal Attaché in Rome

A Sep. 9, 2016, Facebook post by Link Campus University shared by its affiliated Facebook page Scientific Intelligence. The bottom photo appears to show the author of the presentation as Preston Ackerman of the Office of the Legal Attaché in Rome. (Screenshot courtesy of Chris Blackburn)

(…) A number of questions remain about Gaeta’s involvement with the dossier and the Russia investigation: What exactly did he do with the initial information from Steele in June 2016? How often was he in contact with Steele? Did he know Mifsud? The House Intelligence Committee interviewed Gaeta on Dec. 20, 2017. (Read more: The Epoch Times, 10/05/2018)

March 14, 2016 – Mifsud is a Western intelligence asset who is part of a CIA intelligence “operation” against candidate Donald Trump

“According to an interview granted by the lawyer for intelligence asset Joseph Mifsud to journalist John Solomon, professor Mifsud admitted to being a western intelligence asset who was part of a CIA intelligence “operation” against candidate Donald Trump in March 2016.

Solomon notes that an audio-taped deposition exists from Joseph Mifsud prior to going into hiding after the 2016 Presidential election.  From the description it sounds like Mifsud anticipated his assisted suicide and recorded a deposition as leverage against his unwanted demise.

What Solomon describes would align with the CIA purposefully leaking the details about Mifsud to the Washington Post on July 1st, 2019.

In the synergy between the U.S. intelligence apparatus and their media agents, the CIA, DOJ and State Department have specific outlets assigned to public relations.

A long-tracked pattern reflects the DOJ and FBI leak their needs to the New York Times. The preferred outlet for the U.S. State Department is CNN; and the Washington Post generally comes out first with leaks in defense of the CIA agenda.

This pattern has been remarkably consistent for years.

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

So against a backdrop of looming revelations about the intelligence community and their activity in the 2016 election; suddenly The Washington Post, seemingly out of nowhere, pushed an article intended to diffuse the issues around western intelligence asset Joseph Mifsud.

As we noted in July, we can reasonably assume something is happening in the background that has officials in the CIA worried about exposure and their image.  From the WaPo introduction we can see what part of “spygate” the CIA is concerned about:

(Wa Po) […] The Maltese-born academic has not surfaced publicly since that October 2017 interview, days after Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about details of their interactions. Among them, Papadopoulos told investigators, was an April 2016 meeting in which Mifsud alerted him that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

The conversation between Mifsud and Papadopoulos, eventually relayed by an Australian diplomat to U.S. government officials, was cited by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as the event that set in motion the FBI probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

With Attorney General William P. Barr’s review of the counterintelligence investigation underway,the origins of the inquiry itself are now in the spotlight — and with them, the role of Mifsud, a little-known figure. (more)

The entire WaPo article is fraught with highly manipulated narrative engineering intended to cloud the fact that clear evidence exists that Professor Mifsud’s engagement with George Papadopoulos was directed by some entity other than Mifsud.

It would be intellectually dishonest not to see some other purpose and intent beyond an academic wanting to build a relationship with some obscure policy staffer for the Trump campaign.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 8/18/2019)