MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia suspects a diplomat at Britain’s embassy in Moscow is working as a spy, Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source in Russia’s intelligence services as saying on Thursday.
A spokesman for the British embassy declined to comment. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main domestic intelligence agency, also said it had no immediate comment.
Diplomatic relations between London and Moscow have been fraught since a row over the 2006 murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, an emigre Kremlin critic.
British security sources said this week they suspected the Russian state was involved in the killing, an allegation Russian officials denied.
“The activities of … a counselor at the British embassy in Russia, and probably, simultaneously a senior officer with British intelligence, are giving rise to questions among Russian intelligence services,” Interfax quoted the source as saying.
The news agency named the man who was identified by the source as a suspected spy. A British embassy spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the man named in the report is an embassy employee but declined to comment on the allegation.
The Russian intelligence source said the diplomat’s meetings with members of Russia’s radical opposition and human rights activists from the North Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya, were a cause for suspicion, Interfax said.
Litvinenko, a former Russian security agent who settled in Britain, died in London in 2006 after he was poisoned with a radioactive isotope.
Britain named Andrei Lugovoy, another former security agent, as its chief suspect. He denied involvement. Russia refused to extradite him, prompting Britain to retaliate by expelling four Russian diplomats.
Russia this week denied that its intelligence services had any connection to the Litvinenko killing.