London, Dec 2(ANI): Senior US officials believed that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin knew about the operation to murder former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, according to classified US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website Wikileaks.
According to Sky News, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said that Putin's attention to detail meant that it would have been difficult for such an operation to be carried out without his knowledge.
Fried's comments were made in a conversation in Paris with Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, a senior adviser to then French president Jacques Chirac, two weeks after Litvinenko's death in November 2006.
An account of the conversation noted: "Fried commented that the short-term trend inside Russia was negative, noting increasing indications that the UK investigation into the murder of Litvinenko could well point to some sort of Russian involvement."Fried, noting Putin's attention to detail, questioned whether rogue security elements could operate, in the UK no less, without Putin's knowledge," it added.
In November 1998, Litvinenko and several other FSB officers had publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding his authority at work.
He was acquitted in November 1999, but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000.
After the incident, he fled with his family to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he became a journalist and writer.
On November 1, 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalised in what was established as a case of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210 and that resulted in his death on November 23.
The events leading up to his poisoning and death are a matter of controversy, spawning numerous theories.
The British investigation into his death resulted in a failed request to Russia for the extradition of former KGB agent Andrey Lugovoy whom they accused of Litvinenko's murder, contributing to the further cooling of Russia-UK relations. (ANI)