This would seem to rule out accidental self-poisoning in the course of nuclear smuggling, wouldn’t it?
Sky’s Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said there had been “a great reluctance to call it a murder” because of international political considerations.
He said: “This change in emphasis is prompted by preliminary autopsy results. I understand radiation poisoning has been confirmed as the cause of Mr Litvinenko’s death…”
Scotland Yard said it was “important to stress we have not reached any conclusions as to the means employed, the motive or the identity of those who might be responsible for Mr Litvinenko’s death”.
If they don’t know how it got into his body, how can they say for sure it’s murder? Maybe … the polonium was in his digestive tract instead of his lungs? It’s easy to imagine a smuggler inhaling a wayward flake, not as easy to imagine him swallowing one.
Meanwhile, they’ve found radioactivity at the British embassy in Moscow. That had bombshell potential because the embassy’s where you go to get a visa, and logically if the place was contaminated by someone in the course of getting a visa, it means the radiation was in Moscow before it ever got to Litvinenko in the UK. Alas, though, there’s an alibi:
The British embassy announced on 4 December it would test one of its rooms as a precaution, after former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi visited the building to deny any involvement in the poisoning of Mr Litvinenko.
He was there after he had contact with Litvinenko in London. Doesn’t mean he’s not still the prime suspect, just means the finding isn’t necessarily incriminatory.
Finally, Scaramella told CNN that he doesn’t think the poisoning could have happened at the sushi place:
But he said he does not believe his associate could have been poisoned at the London sushi restaurant Itsu, where they met — “simply because there were no other people, any strange situation.”
“Alexander was always on alert,” said Scaramella, who did not eat during the meeting. “And considering that I survived and I feel well, I don’t think I was a target as well, it’s important to underline that.”
He said he did not eat during the meeting because he doesn’t like sushi. But he had met Litvinenko there before, “because he liked this kind of food.”
Whether he met Scaramella before or after he met Lugovoy at the hotel bar is still uncertain.
Update: Scaramella’s out of the hospital.