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UK judge upholds request to withhold evidence in Russian spy death investigation

A senior judge for the Judiciary of England and Wales [official website] on Friday partially upheld [Reuters report] a request by British Foreign Secretary William Hague [official profile] to withhold certain information from the investigation into the 2006 death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko [JURIST news archive]. Litvinenko was a member of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) [official website, in Russian] when he was poisoned to death. Sir Robert Owen was appointed [press release] in 2012 as Assistant Deputy Coroner to take charge of the inquest into Litvinenko's. He has agreed to withhold [Al Jazeera report] any information implicating the Russian government in Litvinenko's death, as well as any information that could undermine trust in the UK's government. A hearing will take place on June 11 to determine the government's next steps in the investigation.

Litvinenko's death has led to strained relations [JURIST report] between the UK and Russia, due in part to Russia's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoy [JURIST news archive], the man suspected of administering the radioactive poison polonium-210 [CDC backgrounder], which killed Litvinenko, so that Lugovoy could stand trial for murder in the UK. The two countries have otherwise battled politically since Litvinenko's death with each expelling a number of the other country's diplomats in July 2007 and Russia closing down local offices of the British Council in December 2007 [JURIST reports]. Lugovoy was charged [JURIST report] with Litvinenko's murder in May 2007.

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