Traces of radiation found where Litvinenko ate

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Traces of radioactive material that apparently killed former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko were found at restaurants where he met other spies just before falling ill and at his home, Scotland Yard said Friday.

Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who was investigating the death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya suddenly fell ill on November 1. In interviews, he stated that he had met with two former KGB officials earlier in the day, and then had had lunch at Itsu, a sushi restaurant on Piccadilly in London. He died two days later at the age of 44.

"Traces of Polonium-210 were found at the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, and at Mr. Litvinenko's home in Muswell Hill, London," Scotland Yard said in a statement. "We are not prepared to discuss further."

Roger Cox, head of the HPA's radiation protection branch, confirmed that the radiation was found in Litvinenko's body.

"A large quantity of alpha radiation from polonium-210 was found in the urine of Mr. Litvinenko", Cox said, adding that it was "unlikely" that the radioactive material came from natural sources.

Litvinenko, in a statement written before his death and read Friday, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind his murder, a charge Putin denied.

"You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life," Litvinenko said in his statement.

Doctors all around the world have been explaining to the media how harmful Polonium-210 can be to a person.

"Only a very, very small amount of polonium would need to be ingested to be fatal, but that depends on how pure the polonium is," said Dr. Mike Keir, a radiation protection adviser at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

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