Spymania: Suspects say poisoning occurred two weeks earlier than thought

On the last episode of Spymania, I disputed the Times’s assertion that no polonium was present in London before November 1, the day Litvinenko was allegedly poisoned. According to the Times of London, the substance has since been detected in the office of Risc Management, a security firm visited by Litvinenko and the two Russian businessmen, Lugovoy and Kovtun, on or about October 17th.

Suddenly, Lugovoy and Kovtun are making a big deal about it:

Lugovoi told the tabloid newspaper [Moskovsky Komsomolets] that he, Kovtun and Litvinenko met in the office of a security company in London Oct. 16. He suggested that they all could have been contaminated during Lugovoi and Kovtun’s mid-October visit to London…

“Who told you that the contamination took place on Nov. 1? It took place much earlier, on Oct. 16,” Lugovoi was quoted as saying by the paper. Lugovoi is reportedly undergoing radiation checks in a Moscow clinic.

Kovtun also claimed in an interview with Germany’s Spiegel TV that he must have been contaminated during meetings with Litvinenko and Lugovoi in London in mid-October.

Presumably the cops told them they found polonium at Risc Management and that’s how they “know” the poisoning happened around that time. Kovtun was apparently radioactive by the time he reached Hamburg on October 28th, three days before Litvinenko supposedly got dosed, so it’s probably true that he, at least, ingested the stuff before November 1st. But did Litvinenko? Sources told the Guardian that he took in enough of it to kill him “100 times over.” If the poisoning took place in mid-October, why didn’t symptoms manifest themselves until two weeks later?

It could be that they’re trying to introduce an alibi here, but if they are, I can’t piece it together. The fact that Litvinenko might have been poisoned much early accomplishes what for them? They were the ones meeting with him in mid-October so they’re still the prime suspects. Maybe they’re suggesting that Risc Management is the source of the polonium and that all three of them were incidentally poisoned while on the premises. If so, British cops are playing it close to the vest: the only mention of Risc that I’ve come across was in the ToL article I mentioned. It’s not alleged to be a “hot spot” showing significant radioactivity; that distinction belongs to the men’s room of the hotel bar where Lugovoy and Kovtun met Litvinenko on November 1st.

We could go full-bore cloak and dagger here and theorize that L & K deliberately left traces of the stuff around town before the hit at the bar to confuse the cops, but would they really take the risk of handling one of the world’s most dangerous toxins more than was necessary? Unlikely.

One other note, re: the nuclear smuggling theory: the street value of the amount of polonium consumed by Litvinenko is estimated at $25 million. The supply it came from was presumably considerably bigger, which means they had several hundred million dollars of it in their possession. Even Al Qaeda would have a hard time coming up with that much dough. In which case, who was it meant for?