Cables shed light on ex-KGB spy's death

WikiLeaks exposes UK intelligence role

 The Russian assertion, denied by British officials, seemed to revive a theory that the British intelligence services played a murky role in the killing—a notion voiced at the time by some in Moscow to deflect allegations of the Kremlin’s involvement in the murder.

The cable, dated December 26, 2006, and marked “secret,” was one of several in the WikiLeaks trove that tried to examine the still unanswered question of who exactly ordered the use of a rare radioactive isotope, polonium 210, to poison Litvinenko, leading to his death on November 23, 2006.

Russia produces polonium commercially, but the process is closely guarded and British investigators have concluded that the isotope could not have been easily diverted without high-level intervention.

In a telephone interview, Marina Litvinenko, the widow of the former KGB. officer, called the Russian assertion “disinformation.” “When they prepared this, they never expected polonium would be known as a murder weapon,” she said.

“But after November 23, they needed some kind of disinformation.”

She said that “polonium could not be used without very high level” involvement of the security services. A separate cable from Paris suggested that at least one senior American official, Daniel Fried, seemed skeptical of statements by Vladimir V Putin—then Russia’s president and now prime minister—that he was unaware of the events leading to the killing, which Britain has blamed on another former KGB officer, Andrei K Lugovoi.

Lugovoi, now a member of the Russian Parliament, has denied British charges that he murdered Litvinenko by slipping polonium into a teapot at a British hotel where the two men met on November 1, 2006.

Russia has refused a British request for Lugovoi’s extradition and the relationship between two countries has not fully recovered from deep strains after Litvinenko’s death.

For Taliban, heroin is ‘savings account’

London, pti: The Taliban in Afghanistan are hoarding 12,400 tonne of heroin and treating their drugs like “savings accounts” to manipulate street prices in the west, according to a US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks. The United Nations’ drugs czar Antonio Maria Costa told Nato representatives that the Taliban and organised crime gangs had withheld 12,400 tonne of opium from the global market to keep the price of heroin and opium at a profitable level.

The opium allegedly withheld by insurgents was worth around $1.25 billion. The US cable appears to show that the UN believed that the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan were well- organised, aware of the market and focused on maintaining a viable price for the drug, it said.

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