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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Robbery Casts Doubt on Spy Story

The noted expert in Russian intelligence who was shot outside his home in Prince George's County, Maryland, last week -- a crime that raised the possibility of international intrigue in the Washington suburbs -- was also robbed of his wallet and briefcase, law enforcement sources said Sunday.

That property was taken from Paul Joyal supports the theory that he was shot during a robbery rather than in retaliation for public criticism of the Kremlin, said two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Joyal, 53, was critically wounded in the driveway of his home near Adelphi, Maryland, Thursday evening, four days after he alleged in a television broadcast that the government of President Vladimir Putin was involved in the fatal poisoning last fall of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Federal Security Service agent who was living in London.

On the television news program "Dateline NBC," Joyal said of the poisoning: "A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin: 'If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you, and we will silence you -- in the most horrible way possible.'"

The timing of Joyal's shooting raised the possibility that he was targeted in an attack similar to the one he had publicly deplored. The disclosure the next day that the FBI was helping with the case seemed to reinforce that notion.

Also, robberies are unusual in the suburban area where Joyal lives, and police spokesmen initially declined to talk about possible motives or say whether property had been taken from him.

But another law enforcement source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sunday that Joyal was driving a Chrysler 300, a vehicle sought after by carjackers, suggesting the assailants might have followed Joyal to his street rather than waiting there to attack him. Police have described the suspects as two black males.

Joyal, a longtime critic of the Putin regime, said on "Dateline" that Litvinenko's poisoning with polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope, was an act of "political retribution." Speculation that Putin and the Russian government were involved in Litvinenko's death in November has been widespread, in part because Litvinenko was looking into the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Putin and Kremlin officials have repeatedly denied involvement.

Another person featured in the "Dateline" segment also died recently.

Daniel McGrory, 54, a reporter for The Times of London, died at his home Feb. 20, five days before the segment aired. MSNBC reported that the cause of death was a heart attack.

Joyal was shot hours after meeting with a former KGB general, Oleg Kalugin, near the Spy Museum in Washington. He remained hospitalized Saturday. His condition could not be determined.