Former Russian KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died after he was poisoned in 2006, was also working for and was paid by the British MI6 spy agency. The U.K. government said it now has evidence that the Kremlin was responsible for his death, it was reported Thursday.
He was also working for the Spanish intelligence agency investigating ties between the Russian government and organized crime, reported British media, citing a preliminary inquest into his death.
“The information that he was involved [in] providing to the Spanish … involved organized crime, that’s the Russian mafia activities in Spain and more widely,” Ben Emmerson, a Queen’s Counsel, told the hearing, the Guardian reported.
A lawyer representing Litvinenko’s wife, Marina, told the coroner that the former Russian spy was being paid by the MI6 when he died in November 2006, according to the Guardian.
Emmerson said, “That relationship between Mr. Litvinenko and his employers MI6 is sufficient to trigger an enhanced duty by the British government to ensure his safety when tasking him on dangerous operations,” according to The Independent.
It was determined that Litvinenko was killed by polonium-210 poisoning while he was drinking tea with former Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun. There have been accusations that the Russian government caused his death, though Moscow has denied such claims.
Marina Litvinenko said at the hearing, “We’ve been saying this many times, but this is the first time this question has been raised in court,” Sky News reported.
Hugh Davies, a counsel for the British government’s inquest into Litvinenko’s death, said that confidential material had “established a prima facie case as to the culpability of the Russian state in the death of Alexander Litvinenko,” reported Sky.
British authorities have identified Andrei Lugovoi, one of the men Litvinenko had tea with, as the main culprit in his murder. However, Russia has refused to extradite him to the United Kingdom to face questioning, causing relations between London and Moscow to sour.
Former Russian Federal Security Service officer Maj. Gen. Alexander Mikhaylov dismissed claims that Litvinenko was a target of Moscow, reported Russian state-sponsored broadcaster Voice of Russia.
“Litvinenko was of no interest to the Russian government at the time of his death. So it was no use to make a global fuss to eliminate him, that the method has not been used for a long time. It would be absurd in that set of circumstances,” he said in an interview with the broadcaster.
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