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31/10/2022 | Norway arrests alleged Russian illegal who spent years building cover in Canada

Joseph Fitsanakis

AN ALLEGED RUSSIAN DEEP-cover intelligence operative, who was arrested by Norwegian police last week, spent years building his fake cover in Canada, while studying there as a Brazilian citizen, according to reports.

 

Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) announced last week that it had arrested José Assis Giammaria, a 37-year-old Brazilian citizen, on suspicion of entering Norway on false pretenses. According to the PST, Giammaria is in fact a Russian citizen, who has been operating in Norway as a non-official-cover (NOC) intelligence officer.

According to Norwegian authorities, Giammaria worked as a researcher at the Arctic University of Norway. Known as UiT, the university is located in the northern Norwegian city of Tromsø. It has a worldwide reputation for research, and approximately 10 percent of its 17,000 students are international. While there, Giammaria was a volunteer researcher for a UiT GreyZone, a scholarly project that studies contemporary hybrid threats and grey zone warfare. His area of specialization appears to have been Arctic security.

Last Friday, the office of the Norwegian state prosecutor said it believed the suspect’s actual name is Mikhail Mikushin, a Russian citizen born in 1978. In a press statement, a Norwegian government representative said authorities were “not positively sure of his identity”, but it was clear that he was not a Brazilian national. Later on Friday, the Oslo-based Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG), in association with the investigative website Bellingcat, reported that Mikushin is a military intelligence officer, who holds the rank of colonel in the Main Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, known as GRU. The newspaper claims that Mikushin left Russia in 2006 with a cover, a term that refers to a fake operational identity used for purposes of espionage.

It also appears that Mikushin moved to Canada in order to build his legend. The term refers to a complex universe of informational and physical artefacts that support a spy’s cover. These include the operative’s digital profile, as well as a set of biographical details, family life data, educational history, personal interests, etc., which breathe life to their cover. Mikushin graduated in 2015 from Carleton University in Ottawa, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a concentration in international relations, as well as a minor degree in communications studies. In 2018, he received his Master’s Degree in strategic studies from the University of Calgary. During his time in Calgary, Mikushin appears to have developed a strong interest in Arctic security policy. He relocated to Tromsø with the help of recommendations from some of his professors in Canada, who were not aware of his intelligence background.

Mikushin/Giammaria remains in custody in Norway. He will remain in custody for a minimum of four weeks, while Norwegian authorities prepare the evidence against him. Regular readers of intelNews will recall that Sergey Cherkasov, the Russian NOC who was arrested last summer in the Netherlands using the name Victor Muller, was also posing as a Brazilian citizen.

Intelnews.org (Estados Unidos)

 



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