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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Reject Britain's Request for Lugovoi

Prosecutors said Thursday that they had officially refused Britain's request to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, a businessman accused in last year's fatal poisoning of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika's office said its refusal to turn over Lugovoi was based on a constitutional prohibition against turning Russian citizens over to foreign countries, as well as a European convention that allows signatories to refuse to extradite their nationals.

Extraditing Lugovoi "is not deemed possible," the office said in a statement, adding that it had informed Britain's Home Office of the decision.

In London, the Home Office said it would not comment on individual cases. Asked if the government had received formal notification that Russia was refusing the extradition of Lugovoi, Michael Ellam, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman, said: "My understanding is no."

In May, Britain accused Lugovoi, a former FSB officer, of involvement in the killing of Litvinenko, who died in a London hospital in November from a fatal dose of the radioactive substance polonium-210.

Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin had emphasized that Lugovoi would not be extradited. Putin called the British request "stupidity," saying British authorities should have known about the constitutional prohibition.

In a statement, Chaika's office also said it would consider investigating Lugovoi as a suspect if Britain makes such a request and provides sufficient evidence to justify it. Prosecutors had said earlier they would not rule out prosecuting Lugovoi.

But Russian authorities have tried to turn the tables on Britain by opening their own investigation into allegations of British espionage made by Lugovoi, who also said British secret services and self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky could have had a hand in Litvinenko's death.