Litvinenko report: Key findings from poisoning of Russian spy

LONDON -- Judge Robert Owen's report into the killing of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was published in Britain Thursday.

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Here are some of the key findings from the report:


-- Litvinenko, a former security agent turned Kremlin critic, died on Nov. 23, 2006, from a heart attack resulting from a ingesting a fatal dose of polonium 210.

-- In his report, Owen outlines the abundant evidence that Litvinenko met fellow former agent Andrei Lugovoi and his associate Dmitry Kovtun for tea at the Millennium Hotel in London's Mayfair three weeks earlier, on Nov.1, 2006.

-- Owen said he is sure that Lugovoi and Kovtun placed polonium 210 in a teapot during that meeting with the intention of poisoning Litvinenko. He is also sure that both men had made an earlier attempt to poison him on Oct. 16.

-- The report notes that prior to the poisoning, Kovtun had told a witness that Litvinenko was to be poisoned rather than shot because "it is meant to set an example."


-- Owen finds that there is no evidence that either of the two main suspects had any personal reason to kill Litvinenko. "I am sure that they killed him on behalf of others," he says.

-- The judge notes that although he cannot be sure that the poison that killed Litvinenko came from Russia, it is clear that it had been manufactured in a nuclear reactor, suggesting that the suspects "were acting for a state body, rather than (say) a criminal organization."

-- He concludes that there is a "strong probability" that Lugovoi and Kovtun poisoned Litvinenko under the direction of Russia's FSB spy agency.

-- He further concludes that the FSB operation was "probably approved" by then-FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev and by President Vladimir Putin.

-- He dismisses claims previously made by Lugovoi that he was the victim of a British set-up, saying he has not seen any evidence to back such a claim.


-- Owen says that Litvinenko's vocal criticisms of the FSB, his association with leading opponents of the Putin administration and his alleged work for British intelligence meant that "there were powerful motives for organizations and individuals within the Russian State to take action" against him -- including killing him.

-- He points out that there was "undoubtedly a personal dimension to the antagonism" between Litvinenko and Putin -- the two men had met in 1998, when Putin was the newly appointed head of the FSB and when Litvinenko hoped he might implement reforms. "In the years that followed, Mr. Litvinenko made repeated highly personal attacks on President Putin, culminating in the allegation of pedophilia in July 2006," Owen says.


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