Five months after her sudden disappearance, Maria Adela K. provided a sign of life. She had been trying to hide from herself, she wrote to her friends in an emotional post on Facebook. But now she had to “reveal the truth.” She had cancer, she wrote.
Thirty-two of her Facebook friends promptly responded. They showed concern, said they were happy to hear from her and also offered words of encouragement. But shortly after that, K. disappeared again, leaving her friends in the dark.
There is much to suggest that the news about the cancer from 2018 was fabricated, like so much in the life of Maria Adela K. Everything, really. Concealment and deception are apparently key elements of her profession: The purported businesswoman, it would seem, is actually a spy serving the Russian Federation.
Joint reporting by DER SPIEGEL and the investigative platforms Bellingcat and The Insider, along with Italian daily La Repubblica, suggests that K. acted as an agent of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU and targeting employees of the NATO base in Naples and the U.S. Navy base there. It’s possible that K. was also supposed to spy in Germany.
As is so often the case in espionage cases, there is a lack of definitive proof, but the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. K. used passports that appear to be from a series issued by the GRU. She pursued Peruvian citizenship using false information and sought proximity to employees of the two military bases – until she invented the cancer story to go underground. [Continue reading…]