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Britain charging Russian in probe of Litvinenko poisoning death

[JURIST] The British Crown Prosecution Service (CRS) [official website] said Tuesday that there is sufficient evidence to charge [press release] Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi with murder in the poisoning death of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko [BBC profile; BBC timeline]. British prosecutors are seeking Lugovoi's arrest and extradition, and a high-level deputy of British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett [official profile] summoned Russian Ambassador Yury Fedotov Tuesday to seek Russian cooperation. A spokesperson for the Russian Prosecutor-General's office speaking on state-owned NTV Russia, however, said that Russian citizens can't be handed over to foreign states, though if presented with evidence, prosecutors could pursue the case in Russia.

Litvinenko and Lugovoi, both former employees of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), met on November 1, 2006, hours before Litvinenko fell ill to radioactive poisoning from polonium-210 [CDC backgrounder]. Britain and Russia are parties to the European Convention on Extradition 1956 [text] and the CPS and Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation [text]. The request for Lugovoi's extradition comes during increasingly tense relations between the United Kingdom and Russia [JURIST news archives]. In April, a Russian lawmaker repeated calls for the United Kingdom to end its political asylum to Russian billionaire and alleged coup plotter Boris Berezovsky [JURIST news archive]. The UK has resisted Russian efforts to extradite Berezovsky. AP has more.

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