Malta academic in Trump probe has history of vanishing acts

This Nov. 12, 2014 photo made available by the Organization of American States shows Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud during a meeting in Washington. It

This Nov. 12, 2014 photo made available by the Organization of American States shows Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud during a meeting in Washington. It

This Nov. 12, 2014 photo made available by the Organization of American States shows Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud during a meeting in Washington, US

This Nov. 12, 2014 photo made available by the Organization of American States shows Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud during a meeting in Washington, US

SWIEQI, Malta (AP) — The Maltese academic who allegedly dropped the first hint that Russians would interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has gone missing. An Associated Press investigation shows it isn't the first time.

A lawyer for Joseph Mifsud claims his client has been ordered to lie low by unidentified Western intelligence services, one of many statements that has fed conspiracy theories about the academic.

But the AP has found that his disappearance is not out of character, documenting at least three previous attempts by Mifsud to drop out of sight when caught up in scandal.

One former colleague says periodically vanishing is Mifsud's "way to survive."