Slowly and surely, the PST believes that spy accused Mikhail Mikuzgin has built a credible identity as an academic interested in the Arctic and northern regions. How did he behave?
Now NRK can still tell the story of how the Russian Mikhail Mikuzgin, born on August 19, 1978, became the Brazilian Jose Aziz Giamaria. According to the Norwegian population register, the latter’s date of birth is 20 November 1984.
Old Facebook profile
There are very few traces of XiaMaria in open online search engines. He does not have accounts on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Mikuzgin’s colleague previously described in the newspaper Guardian How a man accused of being a spy was “extremely” concerned about protecting his privacy. He is said to have said that he was against social media.
– A colleague told the newspaper that he did not want to use WhatsApp and only wanted to talk on Telegram.
But now NRK has found Giamaria’s old Facebook profile. The profile is completely blank, but by finding an old Facebook friend of Giamaria, NRK has succeeded in seeing several posts tagged by Giamaria.
Lies in these posts Lots of great info, plus photos by Mikhail Mikuzgin.
From this Facebook profile, several clues point to Malaysia in what experts believe is the South China Sea. favorite place For worldwide secret services.
Tom Roseth, head of intelligence at the Norwegian Defense Personnel School, tells NRK that Malaysia is a well-known country for secret services.
– Malaysia is attractive as an easy and safe operating region to qualify and train with tire identification. Many people of international background live in the country, Rocheth tells NRK.
Student’s friend in Malaysia
According to the digging network Bellingcat, Mikhail Mikusjin graduated from the GRU’s spy school in 2006. The GRU is Russia’s military intelligence agency known for, among other things, training spies who can operate illegally in other countries. The same year he graduated from this school, he obtained citizenship in Brazil, claiming to have a Brazilian mother, according to a Russian intelligence network insider.
NRK discovers the first digital traces of Mikuzgin’s new life, three years after Mikuzgin graduated from spy school.
The posts may show how he created a new identity in Malaysia as Jose Giamaria.
In August 2009, a student began tagging Giamaria in posts on Facebook. The student, who claims to have been born in Iran, is currently living in Malaysia.
According to the man’s own Linkedin profile, he studied at Taylor’s University to qualify for entry into a Canadian university.
The objective of this university in Malaysia is to qualify students for international top universities including Canada.
Digital facial recognition
Later that year, a student in Malaysia publishes a photo of him and “Jose”.
Used by NRK Facial recognition software Amazon confirms the photo is indeed Mikuzgin.
The share on Facebook did not indicate where the photo was taken, but inquiries by NRK pointed to the photo being taken in Malaysia. The image shows portions of the menus from the bar where people are sitting. One of the papers announces offers with prices starting from RM13.90. RM is the abbreviation for the currency unit in Malaysia – Ringgit.
NRK asks the University of Tromsø if there is anything on Jose Giamaria’s CV about Malaysia.
Marcela Aranibar Douglas, Chairman The Center for Peace Studies, (CPS), produces his CV. It says he attended Taylor University College in 2011, according to Douglas.
– I also spoke to him about this before his arrest and he confirmed that he studied in Malaysia. He talked about the country being a good place, Douglas says. He says it’s not something he tried to hide.
NRK contacted Taylor University to ask if it could confirm Mikuzgin studied there, but the university has yet to respond to NRK’s inquiry.
NRK does not know when Mikhali Mikusjin went to Malaysia.
New images in 2014
“Jose Giamaria” is regularly tagged on Facebook by his friend. The friend’s comments appear to be linked to group discussions that “Jose Giammaria” participated in, but the comments appear to have been deleted from the “Giammaria” profile today.
Then in 2014 a new picture of the man appears. Here, “Jose” is photographed with several people at a restaurant.
At this time, “Jose” was a student in Canada, but it seems he had gone to Malaysia to visit his old friends.
NRK’s inquiries may indicate that this second film was shot on it A famous restaurant in Malaysia is “Asia Café”. The restaurant is not far Taylor’s University in Kuala Lumpur.
NRK has tried to contact the Iranian student who tagged Jose Giamaria in several posts, but he has yet to respond.
– Malaysia is a safe place to operate
NRK provided intelligence expert Tom Rocheth with insight into our research.
He believes the most likely theory is that Michael Mikuzgin traveled to Malaysia to qualify for studies in Canada and use Malaysia illegally as part of the launch of his career. That means creating a reliable identity before moving to Canada.
– Malaysia is a safe place to operate. Also, the country has good relations with Canada. The country also has good relations with Russia. Brazil, which Mikuzjin used as part of his identity construct, has good ties to Malaysia. If so, Russia seems to have started here, and Malaysia is a good place to start such a move, says Roseth.
Mikhail Mikuzgin’s lawyer, Marijana Losik, did not want to comment on NRK’s reports or Tom Rocheth’s statements. Her client pleads not guilty.
A blank Facebook profile with a weird name
After Malaysia, Michael Mikuzgin moved to Canada in 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from the Center for Military, Security and Strategic Studies in Canada.
The University of Calgary said that he has also received a master’s degree there. This was confirmed by the university to CBC, the public broadcaster in Canada. He will complete his master’s degree in fall 2018.
But in between, according to the insider, he was in Russia several times, where he left digital traces, including renting an electric scooter. Digging network Bellingate also checked Mikushin’s registered addresses in Russia and found that he was registered to a residential complex reserved for officers of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency.
Last fall, Michael Mikuzgin came to the University of Tromsø from Canada.
Today, the Facebook profile “Jose Giamaria” has only crumbs. At some unknown time, someone deleted the profile.
Today, the profile has been renamed with an anonymous Norwegian-sounding name, but NRK sees links to old tags on the friend’s Facebook.
The PST did not want to comment on what they knew about the accused’s background.
– The PST has now launched an investigation, which will be more comprehensive. Director of Communications Trond Hukubaken tells NRK that the background of the accused will try to find answers in the investigation.
He says the PST is involved in interviewing witnesses and reviewing the seizures and the accused has been remanded in custody for four weeks.
– The risk of tampering with evidence is one of the reasons we can’t reveal more details about the investigation, says Hugupakan.
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