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British leaders discuss ex-spy's death

Nov. 25, 2006 at 5:09 PM

LONDON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Britain's crisis team, known as Cobra, held an emergency meeting to discuss the mysterious death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

One of the topics discussed was whether a Russian assassination team was responsible for poisoning Litvinenko, The Independent reported. Investigators say that a radioactive substance, identified as an isotope of the element polonium, was found in his body.

The meeting was chaired by Home Secretary John Reid.

"It shows that there is a much greater security issue at stake than just some disaffected individual being attacked," said Patrick Murphy, the spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party on home affairs. "They are obviously concerned that it was a state-sponsored hit."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that his government was involved in Litvinenko's death. Litvinenko, a former agent with the FSB, successor to the KGB, defected to Britain in 2000 and became a fierce critic of Putin.

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