Sunday, 14 February 2016

Peter Clarke, head of counter-terrorism, 2006: “Well, a colleague came into my office and explained that in hospital in north London there was a man who was telling a quite extraordinary story. He was saying that he was a former member of a Russian intelligence agency, and that he believed he had been poisoned by some of his former colleagues.”

The Inquiry Report makes clear that this is something of an over-simplification (cf. 3.135-6). In his police interviews and when confiding to friends and journalists, Litvinenko consistently ascribed possible responsibility for his poisoning not only or even chiefly to Lugovoy/Kovtun, but to an Italian lawyer called Mario Scaramella. Litvinenko met him for lunch at a sushi bar called ‘Itsu’ just half an hour or so before the better-known meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun in the Millennium Hotel. Scaramella had been working as a consultant to the Mitrokhin Commission, instituted by Silvio Berlusconi to investigate links between senior Italian politicians (i.e. Berlusconi’s political opponents) and the KGB. These sorts of matters spilled over into post-Soviet politics and organised crime, so Litvinenko became one of Scaramella’s most highly-prized sources of information. The Commission was headed by an Italian senator called Paulo Guzzanti, whose 10 pages of evidence to the Inquiry can be found on the website. He states that in his view...

“...Alexander Litvinenko exposed himself to danger as a direct consequence of providing information to the Mitrokhin Commission. At the end of 2005 or early 2006 Alexander Litvinenko delivered a video tape…[in whose ten minute recorded statement] he said that when he decided to leave Russia in 2000 he spoke to his mentor and superior General Anatoly Trofimov, who advised him not to go to Germany or Italy because the KGB networks connected to the top level of Italian politics were still very much alive and active in those countries. Alexander Litvinenko went on to explain that Anatoly Trofimov had told him that Romano Prodi (President of the European Commission at that time) was said within KGB circles to be "Our man", the implication being that he was an agent of influence for the KGB. The term "Our man" later became Romano Prodi’s nickname in Italy. The implications of the account that Litvinenko gave in this videotape recorded statement are clear and would have made himself an enemy of both Romano Prodi and the KGB.”

No less illuminating, is the full...

“Transcript of Interview with Alexander Litvinenko and David Leppard from the Sunday Times newspaper.

[Dated on or around 17-11-2006. The resulting article by David Leppard appeared on 19-11-2006]

Persons present: Alexander Litvinenko, Alexander Goldfarb (friend/translator), Marina (wife) and David Leppard (journalist).

Question: If you just start by telling me the circumstances of meeting.

AL: So, I want to say straight away that I am not accusing this Italian of anything. And I am not suspecting him. I am just telling you the circumstances of that day. On the 28th of October an e-mail came on my computer from him saying that he wants to come to London to meet me. My brother lives in Italy. I phoned my brother and I tell him, you contact him and find out, you ask him. But in the e-mail he said that he would come on the 10th- 11th.

Goldfarb: You don’t need so many details.

[Why not?]

AL: No, you, say, say this... So my brother called him and then he called me. He said, but he is not saying anything that would make sense. He said, don’t call me. And then the following day after my brother’s call he arrived. He called me at home and said, let’s meet up in the old place. We had met previously in Piccadilly Circus. At 4 o’clock we arranged. I came there, he was there already. No, no, when I came he was not there yet but then he came right after. He says, let’s go and eat somewhere. Let’s go and sit somewhere. I say, all right, let’s go. We went into one of the restaurants; he, for the first time since I first went out for lunch with him, did not order anything for himself.

Q: Which restaurant is this?

AL: I am not going to answer. He only took some drink, that’s it.

Q: And what was this man talking about?

AL: So, we sat down, he was somehow frightened, nervous, I had never seen him like that before. He says I am going to give you some papers now. (He opened... ?) I say, let’s eat first. No, no, you do this first. He opened some big envelope, got 4 sheets of paper out of it, they were folded like this, he unfolded them and gave them to me. I just folded them and put them in my bag. I looked at them, they were in English, I don’t understand it very well, so I say, I will look at them at home and then I will tell you. And then I put them in my bag and say, let’s start eating. He says, no, you tell me now. I pulled these papers out again and opened them. Yes, why I opened these papers again, because he said, you know, there are people there who killed [Anna] Politkovskaya. What do you think, are they dangerous people, can they kill me? So I took them again and looked. I say, you know, I need to check.

Goldfarb: So there supposedly were some numbers of Russians.

Q: So there was a list of names on this document.

Goldfarb: Yes, including some list of names.

AL: So, I again put those papers back. But the most interesting thing is that he had received these documents by e-mail. Then he says, let’s eat quickly and go. He could have forwarded them to me by e-mail. So he says, let’s eat quickly and go. So, I had my food, he had his drink, and we went. He ran away, disappeared. You know, I did not understand why he had come. We did not discuss anything whatsoever. In those papers in that envelope there isn’t anything at all.

Q: And what was the provenance, was it an official document?

AL: It is a list of names, somebody wrote it by hand. Something about Berezovsky, about me. Yes, and he also gave me an interview with Pablo Kasanio which had been published.

Q: So this document was not an official document, it was a document written by anybody, it had no important information. Of course, it had information about the death of...

Goldfarb: Only you don’t need to give so many details.

[What is wrong with ‘giving so many details’?]

OK, let’s...

Q: Carry on. OK. So, can you tell me, he says he does not suspect the Italian.

AL: I cannot suspect him.

Q: But all of this sounds very suspicious.

AL: It is strange. It looked very, very strange.

Goldfarb: But you said you had bumped into some Russian as well.

AL: Well, in the street, (an older man? - not clear).

Goldfarb: Oh, I see.

Q: Does he think he has been poisoned?

AL: I think I have been poisoned. And I think doctors think the same.

Q: And does he think he was poisoned during this lunch?

AL: I don’t know. They have such resources. I know that their finances are unlimited now. I wrote about this in my book that the laboratories producing poisons are functioning, I spoke to them and they said poisons were used actively. Russian special services nowadays are actively using poisons.
Nurse enters the room and interrupts the conversation.
Goldfarb: Sasha does not want to accuse the Italian, especially as there are means of poisoning not related to food.

AL: Of course.

Goldfarb: It can be coincidence.

[What is Goldfarb’s agenda?]

AL: Of course. It is a very severe accusation of a person. I don’t even want the name of this Italian to be mentioned.

Q: We won’t mention his name. We can’t mention his name. So it may be a coincidence. Or it may be the Italian was involved in helping other people to identify where he was. Does he think that?

Goldfarb: No, he thinks the Italian maybe has nothing to do with it at all.[?] Or maybe they could locate him through the Italian.”

Judging by his performance during the above interview, Goldfarb might also have preferred to have had a way of steering the direction in which Lauren Veevers took the following article, ‘The Litvinenko murder: Scaramella - The Italian Connection’, which appeared in The Independent on 03 December 2006:

“Mr Litvinenko accused Mr Scaramella of poisoning him from the day he first fell ill: as the Italian told me, his name was all over Russian and Chechen websites as the main suspect in the poisoning of the former FSB agent long before the story hit the British press. Mr Litvinenko retained his suspicion right up to his death.[1] Speaking of the Itsu meeting, he said: "Mario didn't want anything, he gave me the email printouts ... I said to myself, he could have sent these emails by computer. But instead he wanted to come [all the way to London from Italy] and give them to me in person: why, and why in such a hurry? He was very nervous.””

   As discussed briefly in Owen’s report (and elsewhere in Veever’s article), at the end of November 2006, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) scientists discovered that a urine sample from Mario Scaramella showed dangerous levels of radioactive contamination – he was admitted to hospital and stayed for nearly a week, though without any signs of illness. Potentially, this was a very serious departure from the script; assuming the Polonium-210 was administered by Lugovoy and Kovtun, there is no way Scaramella could have been contaminated. So it was just as well for Sir Robert and his team that an expert witness called Dr Harrison provided evidence, to the effect that Italians (owing to their diet) have higher background levels of Polonium-210 than other nationalities. Meanwhile, one of the tables at the Itsu restaurant was also found to be contaminated, but Owen states that it was not the table at which the Litvinenko and Scaramella had sat,

“…according to the evidence of Mr Scaramella”. (6.101)

That’s alright then, except – wasn’t there something a little bit, as it were, ‘eyebrow-raising’ about Scaramella’s behaviour that day? In any case though, as Owen points out, the contamination may have resulted from a meeting which took place at the same restaurant in the previous month, between Litvinenko, Lugovoy and Kovtun.

Watson: “The former KGB man was transferred to University College Hospital in central London for intensive care, with a police escort.”

Marina Litvinenko: “…and I met Metropolitan Police, and what was very important, Sasha was able to talk, and they started to interview him.”

Watson: “So this was now an investigation into an attempted murder?”

Marina L: “Yes.”

Watson: “His white cell blood count was catastrophically low.”

Prof Amit Nathwani, UCL Cancer Institute: “He was brought to us with symptoms and signs of bone marrow failure.”

[1] For instance in the police interview of 18 November cited above, although he said he wanted Lugovoy and Kovtun to think they were in the clear, Litvinenko did not disavow any of the suspicion he had previously expressed about Scaramella, saying: “Only these three people can poison me. Mario, Vadim [sic] and Andrei.” And in his final interview on 20 November: "I think that those people who I have reported, who I was meeting, who I was eating with, especially on the 1st, all without exception, I think... I cannot blame these people directly because I have no proof. But I think that all these people are significant witnesses in this case."

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