The former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was ‘probably’ murdered on the orders of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the public inquiry into his death has found.
An inquiry into the death of former spy-turned-dissident Litvinenko, who died in a London hospital in November 2006 from radioactive poisoning, has found that there is a ‘strong probability’ that the two Russian agents who killed him, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, were acting on behalf of the Russian secret service, the FSB.
Owen: "The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved… by President Putin." pic.twitter.com/xMQfqC65eEAdvertisement
— Nico Hines (@NicoHines) January 21, 2016
The man leading the inquiry Sir Robert Owen, said that taken as a whole the evidence that’d been heard in court amounted to a ‘strong circumstantial case’ that the Russian state was behind the assassination.
However, when he took into account all the evidence, including a ‘considerable quantity’ of secret intelligence which cannot be revealed in open court, he found that the FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was most likely approved by Nikolai Patrushev, head of the security service in 2006, and also by President Putin.
The inquiry also claims that Litvinenko accused the Russian president of being a paedophile, and that Putin destroyed videos of himself with ‘young boys’.
Inquiry even republishes the allegations that Putin had destroyed videos of himself with young boys pic.twitter.com/PKlkq14gCa
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Alexander’s widow, Marina Litvinenko, welcomed the report’s ‘damning finding’ and has called for the UK to impose sanctions on Russia in a statement read outside the Royal Courts of Justice, where the inquiry took place. She also wants the UK to expel Russian diplomats, but revealed she had been given indications that the UK would do nothing.
The courts findings will cause a diplomatic nightmare for the British government. Litvinenko, a former agent in the FSB, had acquired British citizenship shortly before his death, after fleeing Russia six years earlier, and David Cameron will come under pressure to respond to the state-sponsored assassination of a UK citizen on the streets of London.
Wife of #Litvinenko says she received a letter yesterday from Home Secretary 'promising action'. Theresa May statement shortly
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While he lay dying, Litvinenko accused the Russian president of being behind his murder, telling police officers that the order ‘could have been given by only one person’ – Putin.
At the time of his death, Litvinenko was working for the British intelligence service MI6 and also for Spanish intelligence, passing on information on Russian organised crime networks and their links to the Kremlin. Before his death, Litvinenko was due to become a star witness in a number of trials.
The poison used in the killing – the radioactive isotope polonium-210 – is incredibly toxic and posed a massive potential public health risk, after traces of it were left in multiple locations around London by the murderers.
As this is a breaking story we will update you as it develops.