British Diplomat Labeled Spy

A source within Russia's state security services accused a British diplomat Thursday of spying before chastising British officials for making what he called "provocative statements" ahead of last week's G8 summit meeting between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Russian special services have questions about the work of Christopher Bowers, the British Embassy's counselor and, presumably, a senior British intelligence officer, who in the early 1990s worked under the 'cover' of a BBC correspondent in Tashkent," the source said, Interfax reported.

The source said Bowers, the mission's deputy director of trade and finance, met with opposition group Committee 2008, led by Garry Kasparov, and aided human rights groups working in the North Caucuses, Interfax reported.

A spokesman for the British Embassy declined to comment on the allegations, citing embassy policy barring embassy staff from discussing intelligence matters.

The statements come as rising tensions between the two countries, at loggerheads since the 2005 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, are increasingly being played out in the media.

On Monday, an unidentified British security agent told the BBC Newsnight program that his government had evidence implicating the Russian government in the murder.

"Recent statements on the alleged involvement of the Russian state in the 'Litvinenko murder' and in the 'attempted assassination of [exiled Russian tycoon Boris] Berezovsky' have not been backed by any concrete evidence, and their emergence ahead of talks between the Russian and British leaders in Japan was provocative," an intelligence source said, Interfax reported.