The Gentlemen from Malta
2017 December 20
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Prologue
The following is in memory of Maltese investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was assassinated on October 16, 2017. Her work helped to inform this article and will be found cited in the endnotes.


This week saw the publication of a report by the Guardian about Kevin Ellul-Bonici,[1] a longtime associate of Nigel Farage, who has worked for Farage and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group at the EU parliament. Ellul-Bonici achieved a degree of notoriety when, in 2014, he and three companions distributed hundreds of copies of a book at the EU parliament as part of a Russian active measure that sought to smear Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė as a one-time KGB asset. An investigation by the EU parliament at the time identified two of Ellul-Bonici's partners as a Russian, a Polish citizen born in Moscow. The fourth was never identified. [2][3] Given Nigel Farage's relationship with Kevin Ellul-Bonici, Farage's involvement in Brexit, mounting evidence of Kremlin involvement in supporting Brexit,[4] Farage's relationship with Donald Trump,[5] and all that we know now regarding Kremlin interference in the US presidential election, this 2015 EU parliament incident appears rather more interesting than it may have seemed at the time. Which brings us to the other gentleman from Malta.


Joseph Mifsud (r) with Russian Ambassador to the UK Yakovenko

Academician Joseph Mifsud came to public attention thanks to his role as an apparent talent-spotter/recruiter connecting Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos with the Russians. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty and is actively cooperating with the Special Counsel's investigation of Trump/Russia. Mifsud, a native of Malta, has dropped out of public view.[6][7][8][9][10][11] At this point the coincidences are impossible to ignore, but hard evidence linking Mifsud and Ellul-Bonici is lacking. Both are from Malta, and are of similar age. And in fact members of Ellul-Bonici's family run in the same social circles as members of the Mifsud family - but there are many Mifsuds in Malta, and as yet no sign that Professor Joseph is one of those Ellul-Bonici family friends. Ellul-Bonici and Mifsud were both actively engaged in supporting Brexit, the former through his work with/for Farage, while the latter is more closely linked to the Russian embassy in London and efforts emanating from there to co-opt the Conservative Party at the highest levels. It is unclear how Mifsud fell into the Russian orbit, whereas Ellul-Bonici has self-documented his college years in the Soviet Union, beginning with remedial classes in Ukraine, followed by at least one semester in Latvia, before settling in at Moscow State University (all this starting around 1979).[12]


Maltese PM Dom Mintoff (l) with Qaddafi

It is worth noting that in 1979, at the height of the Cold War, one did not simply turn up in the Soviet Union to go to college, though the nature of the connections that made this possible for Ellul-Bonici are unclear. In 1979 Malta, a former British territory, terminated its defense agreement with the UK, and in 1980 the island declared neutrality - both moves that were sure to have been greeted warmly by Moscow, regardless of whether or to what extent KGB might have been active in Malta. This same period saw Malta - ruled by the Labour Party under the leadership of Dom Mintoff and then Karmenu Mifsud-Bonnici - warmly embrace Libya and Muamar Qaddafi,[13][14][15][16] and also North Korea and the ruling Kim family.[17][18] Political connections that could have smoothed the way for Ellul-Bonici to attend college in the Soviet Union would most likely have come via the Maltese Labour Party (though there was a clandestine(?) Communist Party organization on the Island as well - more info on the latter is pending).


Maltese PM Dom Mintoff (l) with Kim Il Sung

It's impossible to discuss Kevin Ellul-Bonici without accounting for his wife Sharon Ellul-Bonici.[19] The picture that emerges when one looks at both their political work is of a couple simultaneously active in trying to tear down the European Union while profiting from it. Sharon Ellul-Bonici campaigned against Maltese membership in the EU as part of an anti-EU faction in the Labour Party as well as No2EU and TEAM. Having failed to stop Malta from joining the EU, Sharon Ellul-Bonici promptly attempted to run for European Parliament in 2004, only to be thwarted by the party's vigilance board.[20] She would make the Labour Party list in the 2009 EP election but failed to secure a seat.[21][22] Nevertheless it appears Sharon, and presumably Kevin, have lived and worked out of Brussels since 2004, Kevin as EFDD staff, and Sharon as an EFDD contract employee. Sharon went on to secure additional EU funding as a founding member of Malta-based European Alliance for Freedom, which she stood up with Austria Freedom Party MEP Franz Obermayr, and UKIP's Godfrey Bloom.[23] Not content with multiple EU-sourced paychecks, Sharon also secured EU funding for a child care business in Malta thanks at least in part to her association with Maltese Labour Party leader and current Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.[24]

In closing, and returning to the subject of Kevin Ellul-Bonici, the EFDD made a show of firing him in 2015 after the 'Red Dalia' incident,[25] but there is reason to think he remains associated with Nigel Farage. Regardless of his current activities, there is still the matter of a former senior Maltese police inspector[26] and likely Russian intelligence asset having been free to roam the halls of the European Parliament for over a decade.


Endnotes

[1] The Farage staffer, the Russian embassy and a smear campaign against a Kremlin critic
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/dec/18/nigel-farage-party-staffer-russian-embassy-smear-campaign-kremlin-critic

[2] Kevin Ellul-Bonici implicated in ‘Red Dalia’ smear campaign in Brussels
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/48574/kevin_ellul_bonici_implicated_in_red_dalia_smear_campaign_in_brussels

[3] EFDD ‘smear campaign’ used Russian help
https://www.politico.eu/article/efdd-smear-campaign-used-russian-help/

[4] Russia used web posts 'to disrupt' Brexit vote (Mostrous, Alexi; Bridge, Mark; Gibbons, Katie. The Times; London (UK) [London (UK)]15 Nov 2017: 1)
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/russia-used-web-posts-to-disrupt-brexit-vote-h9nv5zg6c

[5] Trump-Russia Mr. Fixit At Recent Meeting With Boris Over Brexit
https://www.byline.com/column/3/article/1919

[6] Three Republicans were still in the presidential race. The Russians only contacted one
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article181783506.html

[7] Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/04/brexit-ministers-spy-russia-uk-brexit

[8] The Professor Identified In The Trump-Russia Probe Always Wanted To Be The Center Of Attention. Now He Is.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/the-professor-identified-in-the-trump-russia-probe-always

[9] Academic at heart of Clinton 'dirt' claim vanishes
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/08/politics/joseph-mifsud-trump-russia-investigation/index.html

[10] Suspected Russian spy, Joseph Mifsud, visited DC in 2014 promising to dole out money to students
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/suspected-russian-spy-joseph-mifsud-visited-dc-in-2014-promising-to-dole-out-money-to-students/article/2639448

[11] Boris Johnson met ‘London professor’ linked to FBI’s Russia investigation
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/11/boris-johnson-met-london-professor-linked-to-fbis-russia-investigation

[12] The Decay of Empire - The Soviet Experiment and the "Future of Europe"
http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/647195/posts

[13] History of Malta - Notable Dates
http://www.vassallomalta.com/notabledates.htm

[14] Libya's Bridge to Europe
http://archive.maltatoday.com.mt/2009/04/29/t9.html

[15] Malta-Libya Relations
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP85T00287R000101910001-1.pdf

[16] First, Labour supporters were told to love the EU. Now they are being told to hate Gaddafi.
https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2011/09/first-labour-supporters-were-told-to-love-the-eu-now-they-are-being-told-to-hate-gaddafi/

[17] Our man in Pyongyang
https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20061022/opinion/our-man-in-pyongyang.37652

[18] “Here they are, idolising a man who wreaked havoc on our country”
https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2012/08/here-they-are-idolising-a-man-who-wreaked-havoc-on-our-country/

[19] Sharon Ellul-Bonici
https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Sharon%20Ellul-Bonici&item_type=topic

[20] MLP vigilance board stops Sharon Ellul Bonici’s Euro election bid
http://archive.is/Yfyh#selection-205.1-205.66

[21] Sharon, Kevin and the Socialists
https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2009/02/sharon-kevin-and-the-socialists/

[22] Sharon Ellul Bonici launches MEP campaign [2009]
https://web.archive.org/web/20160312062043/http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20090215/local/sharon-ellul-bonici-launches-mep-campaign.245034

[23] European Alliance for Freedom
http://www.eurallfree.org/?q=node/72

[24] Failed Labour candidate and NO2EU campaigner Sharon Ellul Bonici takes EU funding for her childcare centre business
https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2013/01/failed-labour-candidate-and-no2eu-campaigner-sharon-ellul-bonici-takes-eu-funding-for-her-childcare-centre-business/

[25] Kevin Ellul Bonici sacked from EP group
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/49201/kevin_ellul_bonici_sacked_from_ep_group_#.WjvgZyOZNlp

[26] Ex-police inspector fined Lm300
https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20020514/news/ex-police-inspector-fined-lm300.175677

© 2015-2016 Andrew Aaron Weisburd