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November 25, 2006

Man Litvinenko Met In Sushi Bar Is Nuclear Expert

The Italian contact he met after the ex-FSB "businessmen." This might be the most interesting twist yet. Hard to say if this is just coincidence or something more sinister.

The last person to meet Alexander Litvinenko before he succumbed to the agonising effects of radioactive poisoning is a self-professed expert in nuclear materials.

International 'security consultant' Mario Scaramella, who joined Litvinenko for the now infamous clandestine meeting in a London sushi bar, headed an organisation which tracked dumped nuclear waste, including Soviet nuclear missiles left over from the Cold War.

...

Yesterday other customers of the sushi restaurant answered an appeal by health agencies for them to undergo medical checks. Some 200 worried members of the public came forward, also including customers of a Mayfair bar where Litvinenko held another meeting on the day he was poisoned.

...

Prof Scaramella has strongly denied any involvement in the murder and Litvinenko's family, who blame President Putin, say they do not question his loyalty. Having given an interview to The Mail on Sunday earlier in the week, Prof Scaramella yesterday said he was unwilling to say any more because he was 'co-operating with the authorities'. Earlier, he had acknowledged that 'something very strange is going on'.

Our investigations have established that:

l He has a deep knowledge of nuclear materials and their whereabouts around the globe.

l Although he describes himself as an environmentalist, he has detailed knowledge of the activities of Russian agents.

l Some of the institutions listed on his impressive CV appear to have no record of him, prompting questions about a career involving a large number of posts around the globe.

Prof Scaramella agreed to meet us in his home city of Naples to respond to allegations circulating on the internet that he was an intelligence agent in the pay of several secret services. Arriving in the lobby of a hotel flanked by two bodyguards, he produced a professional-looking dossier detailing his career.

As the meeting progressed, Prof Scaramella denied he had links to any secret services and became irritated. "You are sounding like the police,' he said. "Do not use this information against me."

Prof Scaramella's knowledge of atomic materials is clear, however. The Mail on Sunday has discovered that in June last year Italian police launched an investigation into an alleged plot to smuggle uranium into the country after being tipped off by Prof Scaramella.

He told officers that the uranium was hidden in a suitcase and had originated from an undisclosed country in the former Soviet Union. Within just 24 hours, police in Rimini made four arrests.

At the time all Prof Scaramella would say was: "I was investigating the activities of former KGB activities in San Marino (a tiny independent republic near Rimini).

"I was also looking into the trafficking of arms from the former Soviet Union and possible links with Italian terrorist groups. During this I was passed a document that said there were former KGB men in San Marino looking at selling nuclear military material.

"I told the police that 10kg of uranium was hidden in a suitcase and on its way to Italy on June 2; and on June 2 the arrests were made and the uranium found. It was enriched uranium 90 per cent capable of making a small atomic bomb. Also an electronic target device was seized."

The uranium plot came a year after Prof Scaramella announced that he had information that 20 nuclear warheads had been lost by a Soviet submarine in the Bay of Naples.

Prof Scaramella told the Mitrokhin Commission, which investigated KGB activities in Italy, that he had been passed the information from Russian intelligence sources.

A dupe? Someone used by his Russian intelligence sources to suggest a sushi meal with the ex-spy, in order to give the "bad fish" theory a go?

And perhaps someone positioned to take the fall if things went bad? A patsy?

Or a second poisoner, delivering either a second dose to Litvenenko, perhaps as back-up in case the "ex" KGB operatives weren't able to get him to drink the poisoned tea (or whatever)?

As there was polonium 210 found at the hotel bar where Litvenenko had met the Russian busnessmen covert agents earlier in the day, it seems elemenatry that the Italian couldn't have been responsible for the earlier poisoning.

More... I've been meaning to summarize the bazillion articles about this, many linked at Drudge. Allah's done it for me.

This Italian cat looks good as the poisoner -- except for the timeline. How could a sushi-bar poisoning result in the Polonium turning up back at the hotel bar where Litvenenko had met the KGB agents earlier?

But that timeline doesn't seem as firm as it did before:

[The] Independent... places him in the hotel bar with the Russians at 10 a.m. and having sushi with Scaramella at 3. Funny thing about that, too: their source for the timing of the first meeting appears to be Lugovoy, the former KGB agent who as of now is the prime suspect. Lugovoy was allegedly accompanied by two other men, including his “business partner,” Dmitri Kovtun. Kovtun finally came forward yesterday to profess his innocence — and in passing claimed that the meeting happened at 4, six hours later than the Independent has it and at a time when Litvinenko was, supposedly, having sushi with Scaramella.

Scaramella claims that he presented Litvenenko with information they were both being targeted for death by the Kremilin. Which raises the unlikely possibility that Scaramella was actually the target of the poisoning (and the even more outlandish possibility that Litvenenko was to be his poisoner, but mishandled the toxin and killed himself).

Are these guys all being carefully tested for any minute trace of Polonium 210?

The Two-Poisonings Theory... is slightly buttressed by this, from Hot Air:

Whoever poisoned him with this stuff really knew what he was doing, too. According to the Daily Mail, “giving him too much would have caused almost instant death while it took weeks for him to become gravely ill, giving the killer ample chance to escape.”

You don't want the guy dropping dead right in front of you in public. Obviously, the cops are going to take an immediate interest in you should that happen.

So what if you give two the victim two lower doses, hours apart, each dose guaranteed to not overwhelm the victim's system and let him walk away under his own power, but together guaranteed to kill him?


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posted by Ace at 08:25 PM

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