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Spy poisoning: UK seeks ex-KGB agent

Story Highlights

• Ex-KGB agent charged with murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko
• UK prosecutors say they will seek to extradite Andrei Lugovoi from Russia
• Litvinenko died in London after being poisoned with radioactive Polonium-210
• He blamed President Putin for his poisoning -- an allegation the Kremlin denied
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British prosecutors are to ask Russia to extradite businessman and former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi to face murder charges in the radioactive poisoning death of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Tuesday they had evidence to charge Lugovoi and seek his extradition over "this extraordinarily grave crime." Litvinenko died in a London hospital last November, several weeks after he was poisoned with polonium-210.

"I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrei Lugovoi with the murder of Mr. Litvinenko by deliberate poisoning," Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said.

Litvinenko was a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin and had been granted political asylum in the UK.

The case has put pressure on relations between London and Moscow, and Tuesday's announcement threatened to aggravate the situation further.

Britain urged Moscow to cooperate in the case. "Russia should comply with our legal request," Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman said.

However, Interfax news agency on Tuesday cited the Russian prosecutor-general's office as saying it would not turn over Lugovoi to British authorities.

Lugovoi had met Litvinenko in London on November 1 at the Millennium Hotel bar, hours before Litvinenko fell ill.

But in January, Lugovoi told The Associated Press he had no role in Litvinenko's death, adding that the allegations against him were "lies, provocation and government propaganda."

'Howl of protest'

On his deathbed, 43-year-old Litvinenko, who was married with a 12-year-old son, released a statement blaming the Russian president for involvement in his poisoning -- an allegation the Kremlin denied.

Litvinenko said: "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.

"May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me, but to beloved Russia and its people."

Litvinenko's widow said Tuesday she hoped justice would now be done.

"I would like to thank the police and the CPS for all their hard work in investigating the murder of my husband," Marina Litvinenko said in a statement. She later met Russia's ambassador in London.

"It is thanks to them that we have reached the point today of having a named person to be charged with this crime," she said.

"I am now very anxious to see that justice is really done and that Mr. Lugovoi is extradited and brought to trial in a UK court."

Lugovoi, a former security service agent but now a businessman, traveled to London three times in the month before Litvinenko's death and met him four times, Russian media reported.

Lugovoi and businessman Dmitry Kovtun told Russian media they went to London with a group of Moscow soccer fans and met Litvinenko briefly on November 1 to discuss business matters.

Later, they attended a soccer game between CSKA Moscow and Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in north London, where polonium-210 was also later detected.

Both men said they believed someone was trying to frame them over Litvinenko's death.


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Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko lies in bed in a London hospital shortly before his death.

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