Coroner’s report sees Russian state behind ex-KGB spy’s death

Alexander LitvinenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A previously classified report by the British government official who certified the 2006 death of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko states that the Russian state was directly implicated in the murder. 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 UK. He soon became known as a vocal critic of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Litvinenko came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting former KGB/FSB colleague Andrey Lugovoy at a London restaurant. Many suspect that the Russian government is behind Litvinenko’s murder. In February of last year, Litvinenko’s family accused the British government of trying to block a probe into the murder case, after British Foreign Secretary William Hague limited the scope of a public inquest in to the matter on national security grounds. Supporters of Litvinenko have argued that White Hall has played down the Litvinenko murder case in order to preserve its trade ties with Russia’s government-owned energy companies. Members of the murdered spy’s family are now pushing for a full public inquiry into the incident, and are currently making the case before a specially appointed panel of judges at the High Court. In the course of this appeal, a previously classified document has emerged, which contains the report of Sir Robert Owen, the coroner who first examined the available evidence immediately after Litvinenko’s death. According to the document, which has been seen by the BBC, the coroner concluded that, based on “documents held by the UK government”, the “culpability of the Russian state in the death of Alexander Litvinenko” could be established “prima facie”. Read more of this post

Further evidence shows Litvinenko worked for MI6 when killed

Alexander LitvinenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
In 2012, a court in the United Kingdom was told that former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who died of poisoning in 2006, had been working for British and Spanish intelligence when he was killed. Now British newspaper The Independent says it has proof that the late Russian spy provided “expert analysis” on Russian politics for British intelligence, shortly before his death. 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 UK. He soon became 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. Many suspect that the Russian government is behind Litvinenko’s murder. But the dead spy’s family has argued for years that his killers did not only kill an intelligence defector, but also an officer of British intelligence. On Thursday, The Independent said it had seen a diplomatic memo that was given to Litvnenko for analysis by British external intelligence agency MI6. The document, known in the British Foreign Office lingo as a “diptel” (diplomatic telegram), was dispatched to several British embassies around the world in 2000. It includes a descriptive analysis of a confidential meeting in London between British intelligence officials and Sergei Ivanov. Currently a political powerhouse in Putin’s administration, Ivanon was at the time an unknown quantity in Western circles. He had entered politics after having spent nearly two decades working for Soviet and Russian external intelligence. The diptel seen by The Independent outlines the exchange of views between Ivanov and the British officials during the meeting, and evaluates his stance on a broad range of issues, ranging from the rise of Islamic militancy, to China, the Middle East, and the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #837

Alexander LitvinenkoBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Russian ex-spy ‘would testify’ in Litvinenko inquiry. The 2006 murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has never been solved and remains the subject of conflicting narratives and still-deepening intrigue over who may have killed him and why. Now a key witness, a US-based former Russian spy who worked with Litvinenko in the months leading up to his death, says he is willing to give evidence at a public inquiry. British police considered him such a vital witness that they visited the US three times to persuade him to give evidence at the inquest.
►►Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing extradition. Authorities at GCHQ, Britain’s eavesdropping agency, face embarrassing revelations about internal correspondence in which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is discussed, apparently including speculation that he is being framed by Swedish authorities seeking his extradition on rape allegations. The records were revealed by Assange himself in a Sunday night interview with Spanish television. A message from September 2012, apparently says: “They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ. It is definitely a fit-up. Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate“.
►►North Korean defector accused of spying by his sister. Earlier this year, Yoo Woo-sung, one of the most prominent North Korean defectors living in South Korea, was arrested on charges of espionage. Now court documents have shown that Yoo was arrested after testimony from his sister, who said he had been sent on a mission by North Korea’s secret police to infiltrate the defector community and pass back information about the people he met. The Washington Post reports that defectors from the North are increasingly facing the brunt of this suspicion.
►►Iran hangs two men for spying for Israel and US. Mohammad Heydari was found guilty of passing intelligence on “security issues and national secrets” to Israeli Mossad agents in exchange for cash. Kourosh Ahmadi was convicted of providing intelligence to the CIA, Tehran’s prosecutor’s office said. It is not clear when Heydari and Ahmadi were arrested or where they were tried. Their execution was handed down by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

News you may have missed #826 (suspicious deaths edition)

Pablo Neruda (right) and Salvador AllendeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Key suspect in Russian spy murder refuses to cooperate. Andrey Lugovoi, who is now an elected official in Russia, says he will not talk even by video to British investigators about the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London just over six years ago. The murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, has never been solved and remains the subject of conflicting narratives and still-deepening intrigue over who may have killed him and why.
►►Exhumation of Neruda’s remains set for April. A court in Chile has set April 8 as the date for the exhumation of the remains of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, as part of an inquest into his death. The poet and leftwing activist died 12 days after a military coup replaced the socialist President Salvador Allende with General Augusto Pinochet. The poet’s family maintains that he died at 69 of advanced prostate cancer. But in 2011, Chile started investigating allegations by his former driver, Manuel Araya Osorio, that the poet had been poisoned.
►►Venezuela to investigate Chavez murder allegations. Venezuelan officials have said they will set up an inquiry to investigate suspicions that President Hugo Chavez was “murdered by foreign agencies”. Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told the BBC the United States and Israel were to blame for Chavez’s death, and that he had no doubt that Chavez’s death was an act “similar to Yasser Arafat’s“. Earlier this week, the US expelled two Venezuelan diplomats following the expulsion of two American officials from Caracas.

British government tries to block probe into ex-KGB officer’s murder

Alexander LitvinenkoBy 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. Read more of this post

Litvinenko was working for UK, Spanish intelligence when he was killed

Alexander LitvinenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A lawyer representing the family of a KGB defector to Britain, who died of poisoning in 2006, has told a court hearing in London that the late spy was working for British and Spanish intelligence at the time of his death. 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 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. Speaking at a preliminary court hearing on Thursday, in light of an upcoming British government inquiry into Litvinenko’s death, Ben Emmerson, QC, said that the late Russian spy was a “registered and paid” asset of the Secret Intelligence Service. This is not the first time that Litvinenko has been linked to the SIS —known informally as MI6— Britain’s external spy agency. Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, made similar claims to the British press in January of this year. But yesterday’s testimony by her legal team provided the public record with further revelations about her husband’s connections with British intelligence. The court heard that Litvinenko received a regular stipend from MI6 either in cash or via electronic transfer and that he had been provided with an encrypted telephone, which MI6 used to contact him on a routine basis. The night before his poisoning, said Emmerson, Litvinenko had met his MI6 handler, who went by the operational alias MARTIN. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #798

Alexander LitvinenkoBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Britain to hold inquest over death of ex-KGB officer. Britain and Russia appear to be on a collision course over the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer who died in 2006 after ingesting polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service has accused Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, both former KGB agents, for the death of Litvinenko. Russia has refused British requests to extradite the two, leading to a row with Moscow and the tit-for-tat expulsion of Russian and British diplomats. Until now, the British Foreign Office had attempted to limit the scope of an inquest into the death of Litvinenko, fearing further diplomatic fallout. But coroner Sir Robert Owen said last week that he endorsed a previous ruling by his predecessor in the case, Andrew Reid, that there should be an “open and fearless” investigation into the matter.
►►Ex-CIA operative who illegally sold arms to Libya dies. Edwin P. Wilson, a former CIA officer who was convicted in 1983 for illegally shipping 20 tons of C4 plastc explosives to Libya, has died aged 84. In his trial he claimed he had shipped the weapons to Libya at the request of the CIA, because, as he said, the agency was trying to establish good relations with the Libyan government. But the court did not buy his story, so he spent over 20 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, until his release in 2004. He maintained his innocence to the very end.
►►Analysis: Libya an opportunity for CIA if it sticks around. The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including a US ambassador and two former Navy SEALs, has led Americans to vacate Benghazi for their safety, even though various militant groups continue their operations. It is a disaster for US intelligence efforts in the region, especially since the attack has made brutally clear how real the jihadi threat in eastern Libya remains. But there may be the smallest of silver linings to this black cloud, if American operatives are able to capitalize on it. The aftermath of the attack shows widespread displeasure with Benghazi’s jihadist groups, with thousands marching in protest. That is an opportunity the CIA could use to rebuild its intelligence gathering.

News you may have missed #777

KH-9 HexagonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Egypt sacks spy chief after border attacks.  Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi sacked the Director of the General Intelligence Directorate, Murad Muwafi, two generals and the governor of north Sinai region on Wednesday, after gunmen killed 16 border guards there on Sunday before last. Mowafi was the most high-profile official who lost his job, forced into early retirement as Egypt’s intelligence agencies were criticized for missing or ignoring warnings about the attack.
►►Photos reveal CIA deep-sea rescue of a spy satellite. On July 10, 1971, America’s newest photo reconnaissance satellite, the KH-9 Hexagon, dropped a capsule loaded with film toward the Earth. Due to a technical error, the capsule sunk in the Pacific Ocean. Last week, the CIA declassified documents and photographs showing how it went 16,000 feet into the sea to recover the Hexagon capsule.
►►Pre-inquest review into death of ex-KGB officer Litvinenko. A British High Court judge will soon hold a pre-inquest review into the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, officials have said. Litvinenko, who was working for MI6 following his defection from Russia, is believed to have been poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London, in November 2006. British prosecutors accuse former KGB operatives Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun for the murder. However, earlier this year Lugovoy reportedly passed a lie detector test on the subject of Litvinenko’s death, which was administered in Moscow by the British Polygraph Association.

News you may have missed #721

Yuval DiskinBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US spies clash with military over outsourcing spy satellites. Members of the US intelligence community and the military are finding themselves on opposite sides regarding the future of American spy satellites. Since the US first began using satellites to collect intelligence data, the government largely relied on its own technology. But in recent years, as private companies have developed sophisticated satellites of their own, Washington has been increasingly relying on commercial sources for spy missions. Now senior intelligence officials have urged the Obama administration to move away from relying on commercial satellite imagery.
►►Israeli ex-spy criticizes plans for war with Iran. Many Israeli retired officials have criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, but the censure from Yuval Diskin, who stepped down as head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service last year, was especially harsh. “I have no faith in the prime minister, nor in the defense minister”, Diskin said in the remarks broadcast by Israeli media on Saturday. “I really don’t have faith in a leadership that makes decisions out of messianic feelings”. Speaking in New York, former Mossad Director Meir Dagan said simply that Diskin “spoke his own truth”.
►►Litvinenko’s widow still waiting for answers. In 2000, after Vladimir Putin became President of the Russian Federation, KGB/FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko fled with his family to the UK, where they claimed political asylum and, later, British citizenship. During his time in London, Litvinenko consulted for MI5 and MI6, worked at a corporate security agency, and wrote two books, including Blowing Up Russia, which alleged that the Russian apartment bombings of 1999 were organized by the FSB, to justify war with Chechnya and sweep Putin into power. He died in 2006 of radioactive poisoning. Six years on, Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, says she is still waiting for answers.

Ex-KGB spy Litvinenko was working for MI6 when he died

Alexander LitvinenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Confidential documents leaked to the British press show that a leading medical examiner wants to reinspect the 2006 death of a former Soviet intelligence officer, in light of new revelations. Alexander Litvinenko was an employee of the Soviet KGB and its successor organization, the FSB, who in 2000 defected with his family to the United Kingdom. He soon became known as an increasingly vocal critic of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Litvinenko came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting a former colleague, Andrey Lugovoy, in a London restaurant. The latter is believed by British authorities to have assassinated Litvinenko “with the backing of the Russian state”. Although much of the case remains shrouded in mystery, an important new clue was added to the equation in October, when Litvinenko’s widow publicly admitted that her husband had been a paid employee of British intelligence services MI5 and MI6. Marina Litvinenko told British tabloid newspaper The Mail on Sunday that Alexander had advised both agencies on “combat[ing] Russian organized crime in Europe”. She had previously denied rumors that her husband had been working for British intelligence when he was killed —ostensibly by the Russian government. The revelation appears to have prompted a British coroner to request that the medical investigation into Litvinenko’s death be reopened. Documents leaked to The Mail on Sunday appear to show that Andrew Reid, a coroner at St Pankras Hospital in London, has formally requested that both MI5 and MI6 release all of their internal files on Litvinenko, in the context of a new investigation. Read more of this post

Newspaper reveals name of Russian ‘spy’ expelled from Britain

Mikhail Repin

Mikhail Repin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In December of 2010, the British government quietly ordered the expulsion of a diplomat from the Russian embassy in London, whom it accused of “activities incompatible with his diplomatic status” —technical terminology implying espionage. Moscow quickly responded with an expulsion of a British diplomat stationed in the Russian capital. The tit-for-tat incident saw no publicity, and neither man was named, as is customary in such cases. But, in its Saturday edition, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph identified the expelled Russian diplomat as Mikhail Viktorovich Repin, Third Secretary in the Political Section at the Russian embassy in London. The paper said that Repin, a fluent English speaker, was a junior officer of the political directorate of the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, operating under standard diplomatic cover. Repin arrived in London in late 2007, shortly after the British government expelled four Russian diplomats in connection with the fatal poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who had defected to Britain. A “tall, suave, urbane young man”, “Michael”, as he identified himself, quickly became a permanent fixture on the embassy reception circuit and the various events hosted by London-based organizations and think tanks. He specifically joined —and regularly attended meetings of— the Royal United Services Institute, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and Chatham House —formerly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Most people that met him in those gatherings took him for “a fast-track civil servant, defense industry high flier or political adviser”, says The Telegraph. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #615

Clair E. George

Clair E. George

►►Ex-KGB spy Litvinenko’s widow seeks donations. The widow of Alexander Litvinenko has appealed for donations to help expose her husband’s murderers. Marina Litvinenko said she has to know the truth about the Russian ex-KGB spy’s death in London on November 23, 2006. He died of radioactive Polonium 210 poisoning in London’s University College Hospital. He had fallen ill shortly after drinking tea during a meeting with former KGB contacts at a West End hotel.
►►Memorial ceremony for controversial CIA figure. Clair George, who died in August from cardiac arrest at 81, has a rare status in CIA lore. He was the first high-ranking agency official to be found guilty of felony charges while carrying out official duties. Despite the public outrage about CIA actions during the Iran-Contra affair, George remained a popular figure among agency alumni because they believe his loyalty never faltered.
►►Taiwan intelligence agency accused of wasting money. Taiwan’s military-intelligence body has come under fire after one of its agents returned as a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef following a so-called undercover mission in France. The agent, whose U$42,000 tuition for the cooking classes in France was sponsored by the military, has now lent his Le Cordon Bleu certificate to someone else for a fee, according to reports.

News you may have missed #591

David Irvine

David Irvine

►►UK Prime Minister criticizes Russia over murdered spy. British Prime Minister David Cameron criticized Russia on Monday over its refusal to hand over Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB agent suspected in the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London. He also rejected a call from Russia for the restoration of links between the two countries’ intelligence agencies. But the two sides did “set aside their political differences […] to sign multi-million dollar business deals”. Oh, well.
►►Aussie spy agency investigating more terror threats than ever. The Australian Security Intelligence Organization has trebled in size over the past decade and now has unprecedented powers. In a rare interview, ASIO Director General David Irvine says he is worried about the potential of an attack similar to the recent shootings and bombings in Norway.
►►‘Cuban Five’ spy member seeks return home after prison. Rene Gonzalez, a former Cuban intelligence officer convicted of spying in the US, wants a federal judge to permit his return to Cuba after his release from prison next month. But US government prosecutors say Gonzalez never showed remorse for his crimes and that there’s no justification for him to go to Cuba.

Germany launches probe into poisoning of ex-KGB colonel

KGB seal

KGB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An official government probe into the alleged poisoning of a Russian former KGB colonel and his wife has been launched in Berlin, German officials have announced. Regular intelNews visitors will recall the recent case of Viktor Kalashnikov, a former colonel and authority on military matters for the Soviet KGB, who was taken in critical condition to a Berlin hospital along with his wife, Marina. The two were found to have over ten times the highest permissible level of mercury in their blood, which, according to medical experts, points to a deliberate poisoning attempt. The case intrigued German officials, since the Kalashnikovs, who moved to Germany last September, are known in Russia as vocal critics of the Putin-Medvedev administration. The two have co-authored scathing critiques accusing Moscow of manipulating the separatist Chechen movement in order to create “a national security state” in Russia. Read more of this post

German police probe poisoning of ex-KGB colonel

KGB seal

KGB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Police in Berlin are investigating a possible attempt to assassinate a Russian former KGB operative and his wife, through mercury poisoning. According to German newsmagazine Focus, Viktor Kalashnikov, a former colonel and authority on military matters for the Soviet KGB, was taken in critical condition to a Berlin hospital along with his wife, Marina. The two were found to have over ten times the highest permissible level of mercury in their blood, which, according to medical experts, points to a deliberate poisoning attempt. Colonel Kalashnikov, who arrived in Germany three months ago, is known as one of the Russian government’s harshest critics. He became famous in the 1990s, when he joined other former KGB operatives —most notably the late Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated in 2007, and whose widow is also named Marina— in accusing the Russian administration of Vladimir Putin of manipulating the separatist Chechen movement in order to solidify his vision of “a national security state” in Russia. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 750 other followers