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.

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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.

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

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.

News you may have missed #0184

  • Rumors of joint US-Israel-Egypt-Jordan spy meeting. Israeli site DEBKAfile is one of several Middle Eastern news outlets alleging that a secret meeting was held earlier this month between senior intelligence officials of the US, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.
  • Germany won’t prosecute suspect in Litvinenko murder. Germany has dropped attempts to prosecute Dmitri Kovtun, a former Soviet military intelligence officer implicated in the 2006 killing in London of Russian former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Meanwhile the primary suspect in the case, former KGB bodyguard Andrey Lugovoy, who lives in Russia, said he may be ready to face questioning in the UK “under certain conditions”.
  • FBI charged terrorism suspect after trying to recruit him. Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts man accused of plotting to kill Americans, was charged by the FBI only after he refused to work as an informant against Muslims, according to his lawyer. This is not the first time such allegations have surfaced.

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News you may have missed #0165

  • UK demands Russians deliver spy assassin. David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary pressed Russia during a visit to Moscow on Monday to turn over Andrey Lugovoi, the main suspect in the 2006 killing in London of Russian former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. But, as before, Russia rejected the demand on legal grounds.
  • Analysis: Confusion in US intelligence secrecy policy. The decision last week by the Director of National Intelligence to declassify the FY2009 budget for the National Intelligence Program is inconsistent with other ODNI classification actions and highlights the confusion over the proper scope of national security secrecy that prevails in the US intelligence community today.
  • Equatorial Guinea pardons Western coup plotters. Four whites jailed for leading an alleged 2004 coup attempt in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea have been unexpectedly pardoned. They include Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces officer, and Nick du Toit, a South African mercenary. The Guinean government cited…”Jesus Christ” in making the decision to pardon the coup plotters.

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New book examines KGB poison lab

Lugovoy

Lugovoy

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Former Soviet military intelligence officer Boris Volodarsky has given an extensive interview to Radio Svoboda (RFE/RL’s Russian language service) about his newest book, KGB Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko. At the heart of his book is the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB intelligence officer who had defected and was living with his family to the UK, until he came down with a fatal dose of polonium 210. Volodarsky agrees with most intelligence experts that Litvinenko’s murder carries with it all the marks of a KGB assassination operation. But the former intelligence officer, who now lives in Vienna and London, believes Litvinenko’s poisoning was not carried out by Andrey Lugovoy, as is claimed by British authorities, but by an unknown member of the KGB’s mysterious “C” directorate. Lugovoy, who is wanted in Britain for Litvinenko’s murder, served in the KGB and in Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) from 1987 to 1996, and is currently a member of the Russian Duma. Volodarsky’s interview is available in Russian here.

Ex-KGB agent, wanted for murder in Britain, to run for mayor

Lugovoy

Lugovoy

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Andrey Lugovoy, who is wanted in Britain for the 2006 murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, is poised to run for mayor in the Russian city of Sochi. British authorities believe that Lugovoy, who served in the KGB and in Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) from 1987 to 1996, carried out the radioactive poisoning of Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer who had defected to the UK. Litvinenko, who was a vocal critic of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting Lugovoy in a London restaurant. The latter is believed by British authorities to have acted “with the backing of the Russian state”. A victory by Lugovoy in next month’s mayoral race could potentially pose a diplomatic challenge for London, as Sochi will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. If he wins, therefore, the prime murder suspect will be expected to lead local officials in “welcoming the British team to the Games”. Britain’s Daily Telegraph notes that such a possibility could ultimately “lead to the first ever British boycott of an Olympic Games”. Read more of this post

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