RUSSIA WAS INVOLVED IN DISSIDENT’S MURDER IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

Daily Telegraph on January 23, 2015, reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) obtained communications between key individuals in London and Moscow from the time that Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive material. Excerpts below:

The National Security Agency (NSA) obtained electronic communications between key individuals in London and Moscow from the time that the former spy was poisoned with radioactive material in central London. The evidence was passed to the British authorities.

A source familiar with the investigation confirmed the existence of American “intelligence material”. They said it would have been “inadmissible” in court, but that the British authorities were “confident that this was a state execution”.

The disclosure comes ahead of the start of the public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death in 2006, which will see hearings, many of which will be held in secret, carried out over a nine-week period in the High Court from Tuesday.

The existence of the American intelligence material offers the first proof that the Russian state was involved in the murder of the dissident and explains why senior British politicians have been so confident in publicly blaming the Kremlin for the murder.

It is revealed as part of a Telegraph investigation which also unearthed an audio recording appearing to capture Litvinenko giving a detailed account of his investigations into links between Vladimir Putin and one of the world’s most dangerous criminals.

The tape will reignite claims that Litvinenko could have been killed as a result of investigative work he carried out in a series of European countries after leaving Russia.

The disclosure of the material is likely to be put pressure on the British government’s relationship with the Kremlin and will renew calls for the UK to toughen its stance.

The start of the inquiry comes after years of campaigning by Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the former KGB spy, for an official verdict on his death.

Mrs Litvinenko has applied to the NSA to disclose telephone intercepts, and says that

Litvinenko was poisoned in November 2006 during a meeting at a Mayfair hotel. He died three weeks later. Tests revealed that he ingested a rare isotope, polonium 210, which is hard to detect.

British prosecutors want two men, Andrei Lugovoy and Dimitri Kovtun, both of whom are former KGB bodyguards, to face murder charges over the murder.

Mr Lugovoy, now a Russian MP, and Mr Kovton, have always maintained their innocence and Moscow have said that they cannot be extradited under Russian law.

An international warrant has been issued for their arrest if they ever leave Russia.

Last October Marina Litvinenko filed a Freedom of Information request to the NSA through an intermediary asking for “NSA intercepts of telephone communications of Mr Andrei Lugovoy and Mr Dimitry Kovtun from London, UK, in the period October 15 to November 1 2006.”

The application stated that the material was “to be used as evidence in the [public] inquiry hearings.”
Paul Blaskowski, a senior NSA official, responded in a letter that it could not comment on the “existence or non-existence” of the transcripts because such material had “to be kept secret in the interest of national defence or foreign relations.”

He said the spy agency was also empowered “to protect certain information concerning its activities” by withholding if from public disclosure.

…Litvinenko had been working for MI6 for several years during his time in London.

As part of this, Litvinenko also began assisting the Spanish security services. It is understood that his work in Spain involved investigating organised crime networks.

Litvinenko’s work in Spain, as well as in Italy and Georgia, after leaving Russia and the KGB, has given rise to competing theories about who might have been behind his death.

The disclosure of the former spy’s verbal account of his investigations of Moscow’s links to criminal networks in Italy will raise fresh questions about the risk involved in his work in the country.

However, Alex Goldfarb, a close friend of Litvinenko who was involved in helping him gain political asylum in Britain, also said that his friend “did not see how dangerous and threatening the Spanish operating was”.

Mr Goldfarb said the individuals Litvinenko investigated in Spain had “good connections in the Kremlin” and the information he was gathering “could have tarnished Putin’s image and more importantly, could have harmed the business interests of his inner circle”.

Litvinenko himself accused Putin of being behind his murder shortly before he died.

“You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life,” Litvinenko wrote in a statement read out by Mr Goldfarb after his death.

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