updated 5/31/2007 6:03:44 AM ET 2007-05-31T10:03:44

The Russian businessman whom Britain has named as a suspect in the killing of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko said Thursday that he has evidence of British special services’ involvement in the poisoning death.

“Even if (British special services) hadn’t done it itself, it was done under its control or connivance,” Andrei Lugovoi told a news conference. Asked if he had evidence for the allegation, he said “I have evidence” but did not elaborate.

A British government security official, who demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing Lugovoi’s claims because of the sensitivity of the case, said suggestions British intelligence had involvement in Litvinenko’s death were spurious.

Britain last week said it had enough evidence to charge Lugovoi, who also worked for the KGB and its main successor agency the FSB, in the November killing of Litvinenko.

Litvinenko, who died of poisoning by the rare radioactive isotope polonium-210, had fled to Britain several years earlier after becoming a strong critic of the Kremlin and received British citizenship.

Lugovoi and another Russian had met in London with Litvinenko on Nov. 1, the day Litvinenko said he became ill.

Russia refuses to extradite Lugovoi
Britain has requested Lugovoi’s extradition, but Russia has refused, saying the constitution does not permit such extraditions.

Lugovoi has repeatedly asserted he is innocent.

On Thursday, Lugovoi also claimed that Britain had tried to recruit him to provide intelligence. British special services “asked me to collect compromising information on President (Vladimir) Putin,” Lugovoi said.

Lugovoi said the attempted recruitment occurred during business trips to Britain in previous years. He did not give a precise date, but indicated the alleged approach occurred in late 2005 or early 2006.

London’s Foreign Office, responsible for the country’s overseas secret intelligence service MI6, declined to comment on Lugovoi’s claim. But another government official with knowledge of Lugovoi, who also demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the allegations were untrue.

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