British government tries to block probe into ex-KGB officer’s murder
February 27, 2013 4 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The family of a Russian spy, who died of poisoning after defecting to Britain, has accused the British government of trying to cover up the affair in order to avoid embarrassing Russia. Alexander Litvinenko was an employee of the Soviet KGB and one of its successor organizations, the FSB, until 2000, when he defected with his family to the United Kingdom. He soon became widely known as a vocal critic of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Litvinenko came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting a former KGB/FSB colleague, Andrey Lugovoy, at a London restaurant. He died in hospital three days later. A public inquest into Litvinenko’s murder had been scheduled for May, 2013. On Tuesday, however, it was revealed that the British government had filed a written petition to limit the information disclosed in the inquest. According to The London Times, British Foreign Secretary William Hague filed a Public Interest Immunity Certificate (PIIC), which, if allowed to stand, would limit the scope of the inquest on national security grounds. It is believed that the government wishes to block information linking Litvinenko to the Secret Intelligence Service —also known as MI6— Britain’s primary external spy agency. Last December, Ben Emmerson, the lawyer representing Litvinenko’s widow, claimed that the late Russian spy was a “registered and paid” agent of MI6 and Spanish intelligence at the time of his death. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, following news of the British government’s PIIC petition, Emmerson accused London of trying to play down the Litvinenko murder case in order to preserve its lucrative trade ties with Russia’s government-owned energy companies. In his words, “the British government, like the Russian government, is conspiring to get this inquest closed down in exchange for substantial trade interests which we know [British Prime Minister David] Cameron is pursuing”. The coroner in charge of the public inquest, Sir Robert Owen, told reporters on Tuesday that he was not at liberty to disclose the details of the British government’s PIIC request. He added that he would decide on Wednesday whether to accept the petition.