Cannot get ApplicationUser

Hello,
I logged in as the "test_admin" user in JIRA.
I tried to get ApplicationUser using UserUtil.getUserByKey. for the user "test_operator"
It returns null, however "test_admin" has permissions to get information about "test_operator".

I tried the same using rest api
/rest/api/2/user?username=test_operator
and I managed to get the information.

Why is UserUtil.getUserByKey returning null?
For the other users it works correctly, the problem occurs only with one user.

The User Directory has "Atlassian Crowd" type.

JIRA server - 6.1

Thanks in advance,
Tatiana.

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