Security agencies say they can prove the death of former KBG spy turned anti-Putin dissident Alexander Litvinenko was “state backed execution” after intercepting communications between those involved in his killing.
American’s National Security Agency (NSA) obtained electronic communications between individuals in London and Moscow which they say prove that the former spy was poisoned with radioactive material in central London, the Telegraph discloses.
A source close to the investigation said that while the evidence would be “inadmissible” in court, the British government were “confident that this was a state execution”.
Mr Litvinenko was poisoned in 2006 during a meeting at a hotel in Mayfair, dying three weeks later after having ingested polonium 210.
His widow Marina has been campaigning for years for America to provide tapes with this evidence to the British authorities in order to reach an official verdict on his death. She applied to the NSA for the tapes to be given to Sir Robert Owen, a former High Court judge who is overseeing the official nine week investigation into the murder of the Russian.
The existence of this evidence will reignite claims that Litvinenko was killed on the orders of the Kremlin because of investigative work he carried out after leaving Russia, including links between Vladimir Putin and Semion Mogilevich – a Ukrainian crime boss who was on the FBI’s most wanted list and whom Mr Litvinenko believed was selling weapons to al-Qaeda.
Last year Sir Robert said that he had seen “prima facie” evidence that the Russia state was involved in the murder and it is likely that this intelligence from the American agency formed part of that which Sir Robert was given.
The new material will put pressure on the British government to take a harder stance with Moscow. UKIP MEP Gerard Batten who was an associate of Lt Col Litvinenko said the evidence “confirms what we already knew, that Litvinenko was murder by Russian gangster state, sanctioned at the highest level.” He also accused the British government of a “whitewash because of it’s weakness.”
At the time, Mr Batten stated that Lt Col Litvinenko, who was his constituent, had been told that Italian Prime Minister and former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi had been the KGB’s “man in Italy” and demanded an inquiry into the allegations. He told the European Parliament that for former FSB agent had been warned by the agency’s deputy chief General Anatoly Trofimov that there were numerous agents in Italian politics. Trofimov was later assassinated by unknown gunmen in 2005.
In 2007, the BBC and ITV News released documents and video footage from February 2006 showing Lt Col Litvinenko making the same allegations against Prodi.
British prosecutors want two men, Andrei Lugovoy and Dimitri Kovtun, both former KGB bodyguards, to face charges over the murder. Mr Lugovoy, who is now an MP, and Mr Kovtun have both protested their innocence and Moscow has refused to extradite them to face trial. However an international arrest warrant has been issued which means the men can be arrested any time they leave Russia.
The public inquiry was ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May last year, to replace an ongoing inquest into whether the Russian state was behind the killing. Previous governments had resisted calls for an inquiry on the basis of protecting international relations. But Sir Robert, who was the coroner at the inquest, overturned decisions by the government to withhold certain information, saying he could not conduct a “fair and fearless” investigation otherwise.
It is understood the documents relate to Lt Col Livinenko being an informant to MI6 who, information revealed at the inquest showed, had been working for the secret government agency for several years while living in London.