Poisoned Russian Was on the MI6 Payroll; Murdered: Alexander Litvinenko

Daily Mail (London), October 27, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Poisoned Russian Was on the MI6 Payroll; Murdered: Alexander Litvinenko


Byline: Stephen Wright, David Williams

THE former Russian spy poisoned in a London hotel was an MI6 agent, theDaily Mail can reveal today.

Alexander Litvinenko was receiving a retainer of around [pounds sterling]2,000 a month from theBritish security services at the time he was murdered.

The disclosure, by diplomatic and intelligence sources, is the latest twist inthe Litvinenko affair, which has plunged relations between London and Moscow totheir lowest point since the Cold War. On the day of the poisoning, November 1,former KGB agent Mr Litvinenko met prime suspect Andrei Lugovoy at theMillennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London.

Mr Lugovoy claims that Mr Litvinenko tried to recruit him to supply informationto MI6.

The businessman, another former KGB agent, also alleged that his ex-colleagueasked him to find candidates for political asylum here. He left Britain forRussia soon after, and has never returned.

Mr Litvinenko had defected to Britain in 2000 and was granted political asylumthe following year with his wife Marina, 44, and son Anatoly, 12.

It is understood that Sir John Scarlett, now the head of MI6 and once based inMoscow, was involved in recruiting him to the Secret Intelligence Service.

The fact that the 43-year-old 120 ex-Russian spy was actually working forBritain when he died could provide the key to his extraordinary killing. Afteran exhaustive Scot- land Yard investigation, the Crown Prosecution Serviceannounced earlier this year that there was sufficient evidence to charge MrLugovoy with 'deliberate poisoning'.

Britain has called for his extradition so he can stand trial at the Old Bailey,but the Kremlin refused the request in July.

In an echo of the Cold War era, Britain then expelled four Russian diplomatsfrom London.

Days later, Moscow responded with a tit-for-tat expulsion of four Britons.

Intelligence sources have told the Daily Mail that they do not expect a trialwill ever take place.

They also said there remains a 'perceived threat' against Mrs Litvinenko, wholives with her son at a safe house in the Home Counties.

Mr Litvinenko died in hospital on November 23 after three agonising weeks inwhich his hair fell out, his skin turned yellow and his organs failed. Aphotograph taken on his deathbed shows the devastating effect the poison had onhis body.

Investigators believe that a fatal dose of radioactive polonium 210 was slippedinto a teapot when the two men met at the hotel.

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