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More Radiation Found in Britain


A second man has tested positive for radiation poisoning.

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists probing the death of Alexander Litvinenko said on Friday a second man had been poisoned by the same type of radiation that killed the former Russian spy.

Mario Scaramella, an Italian contact of Litvinenko's, met the Russian at a London sushi restaurant on November 1, the day he fell ill.

Some media reports had suggested Scaramella might be a suspect in the Russian's poisoning, but the latest twist appeared to explode that theory and provided no clearer explanation of who was behind the death.

Litvinenko, who also met two Russians in a London hotel on the same day, believed the Kremlin had ordered his death -- an accusation dismissed as ridiculous by Moscow.

"We are confirming that one further person who was in direct contact with Mr Litvinenko has been found to have a significant quantity of polonium 210 in their body. This is being investigated further in hospital," a spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said.

"There is likely to be concern for their immediate health."

Polonium 210 is the same radioactive isotope that poisoned Litvinenko, who died a slow and agonising death in a London hospital.

And now Fox News is announcing that a British hotel is being evacuated for radiation tests. The hotel, the Ashdown Park, may be the same one that Scaramella stayed at while in London. This is getting really strange and unpredictable, like something out of the Twilight Zone.

Update: Fox News is now reporting that an adult member of Alexander Litvinenko's family has tested positive as well.

Was there a secret hit squad? According to smuggled letters from Russia, yes there is.

Detectives are investigating letters smuggled out of Russia purporting to show the existence of a secret squad set up to target poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko and others.

Scotland Yard has been passed copies of two letters apparently penned in jail by former Russian intelligence officer Mikhail Trepashkin, in one of which Mr Litvinenko is warned that both he and his family are at risk.

Mr Litvinenko's London friend Alex Goldfarb said scans of the letters came into his possession on Thursday and he passed them to Scotland Yard.

Mr Trepashkin, who worked for the KGB's successor the FSB until 1997, was tried in 2004, accused of being a British spy and passing secret information to Mr Litvinenko and his close friend the tycoon Boris Berezovsky, both exiled in London.

Mr Litvinenko, who died a week ago from radiation poisoning, believed he had been murdered for criticising Russian president Vladimir Putin. A special post-mortem examination is taking place on his body at the Royal London Hospital. Traces of the radioactive substance polonium 210, which was found in a sample of Mr Litvinenko's urine, have since been detected at 12 sites, including British Airways planes.

The letters include one to Mr Litvinenko which he never received, as well as one to his friend Mr Goldfarb. In the message to Mr Litvinenko on November 20, Mr Trepashkin recalls a conversation in August 2002 in which he warned Mr Litvinenko - already living in London - that he and his family were at risk from the FSB.

Mr Trepashkin tells his friend that he had met an FSB contact near a railway station in Russia who told him that a "very serious group" had been set up, which "will knock out all those associated with Berezovsky and Litvinenko".

The FSB is the new KGB. New initials, just as evil.

Update: Mario Scaramella was not only in contact with the polonium-210, but he's also been poisoned with a significant amount, making the British authorities to believe that he was deliberately targeted as well:

Police fear that the murder of a former Kremlin spy may have been part of a double killing plot after a second man was taken to hospital last night with radiation poisoning.

Toxicologists confirmed yesterday that Mr Scaramella had also been contaminated by a "significant" amount of deadly polonium-210. The level leads them to suspect that it was more than he could have ingested from simple physical contact with Litvinenko.

Radiological experts also say that the amount is more than he could have inhaled from being close to Litvinenko had he coughed or sneezed. Cobra, the Government's emergency planning committee, met after learning of Mr Scaramella's contamination.

Doctors say it may be several weeks before the Italian academic knows the long-term effects of the contamination and whether he is likely to develop cancer. Mr Scaramella has ingested nothing like the amount that Litvinenko did, which explains why he has not shown the same acute symptoms, but doctors say that there is a longer-term risk of him developing cancer.

One health expert told The Times last night: "There is no known way of getting rid of polonium-210 from the body, so it does cause long-term damage." Mr Scaramella met the former KGB colonel on November 1 at the Itsu sushi bar in London that the men used as a rendezvous.


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Comments (14)

This is just the strangest ... (Below threshold)

This is just the strangest thing! I can see a hit squad and all that, but this seems like a really weird way to get rid of someone.

This is a movie...except it... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

This is a movie...except it isn't...

Not just weird, but stupid ... (Below threshold)

Not just weird, but stupid and scary. Many radioactive substances can be traced back to specific reactors, not smart to leave a trail of breadcrumbs back to the assassin's lair, so to speak.

Plus, it's not such a slippery slope to go from poisoning one man with radioactivity to more indiscriminate uses such as dirty bombs. It's a needless escalation, when more common methods of assassination are readily available.

It's just an old cold war w... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

It's just an old cold war way for 007 to kill double agents. Remember this back in 1978? There's nothing new about these subtle once-upon-a-cold-war murder techniques except to say that those who are licensed to kill ... will continue to be creative with impunity. Stay safe.

@ illTemperedCurYe... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

@ illTemperedCur

Yeah, go have a hissy fit in Red Square and call Vlad a dirty name ... and if you mattered, it would come as a knock on your door in the middle of the night, pal. Better than Saddam poisoning your entire family and everyone within a mile of them and then bulldozing your village off the map in broad daylight. That's not fair at all!

They want people to know wh... (Below threshold)

They want people to know who poisoned them. They just don't want the ties clear enough, action will be taken.

That must be it, jpm. That... (Below threshold)

That must be it, jpm. That's what was bothering me, why use something that could be traced, unless they wanted the source known? Seems pretty brazen to me.

If the killers didn't want ... (Below threshold)

If the killers didn't want the world to know that they killed him, then perhaps they are trying to frame somebody else. Seems like a lot of work to me, but people are weird.

It's simple arrogance. Put... (Below threshold)

It's simple arrogance. Putin's killers have been getting away with this stuff for years. So using something so outrageous this time is just the normal business for them (recall the night-time apartment bombings that started the second Chechen War -- the only suspects ever caught on scene were Russian govt. agents).

Besides, what is the UK going to do about it? They're not going to go to war with Russia nor will they try to kill Putin. They might indict some small fry but only if they don't have diplomatic immunity AND if they happen to be in England still. In the end, Putin will get away with it. In fact, his status will be stronger since even more people will be afraid to criticize him.

At first I thought the whol... (Below threshold)

At first I thought the whole thing was done in such an obvious manner to send a message to Putin's other political opponents, then it all got too weird when they found radioactive trails all over London.

What's made the most sense to me is what I've been reading over at http://www.theSpyWhoBilledMe.com. Seems CIA insiders are laughing at what a botched job the Russians did. The FSB/KGB has been experiencing brain drain which also apparently is a problem at the CIA.

LenS...As you know Litvenk... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

LenS...As you know Litvenkio wrote a book Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within" alleging that the FSB co-ordinated the 1999 Russian apartment bombings that killed more than 300 people. I think it is time 'for Bush to look into Putin's soul again,'..but this time spare us another warm fussy visit to Crawford. I'm more than a little cynical about 'the global war against terror' when enlisting someone so ruthless and devious, as Putin as our staunch ally. He was even invited to, and attended and participated in the NATO summit in Riga last week, not to mention the G7 in Scotland last summer, which has now become the G8, because of Russia's inclusion.

Steve,You're gonna... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:


You're gonna get radioactive talking like that.

Alexander Litvinenko - plot... (Below threshold)

Alexander Litvinenko - plot thinckens from Ireland to Italy

The Secret world of Mario S... (Below threshold)

The Secret world of Mario Scaramella - Nuclear Smuggling, Espionage and the Intelligence Community






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