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Viewing cable 06HAMBURG85, HAMBURG POLICE TRACK POLONIUM TRAIL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06HAMBURG85 2006-12-19 11:11 2010-12-01 23:11 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Hamburg
VZCZCXRO8675
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAG #0085/01 3531138
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 191138Z DEC 06
FM AMCONSUL HAMBURG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0098
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0088
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0001
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0001
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0007
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0001
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHAG/AMCONSUL HAMBURG 0112
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMBURG 000085 

SIPDIS 
SIPDIS 

EO 12958 DECL:  12/19/2016 
TAGS KCRM, PTER, EAIR, PINR, PINS, KNNP, RS, GM, UK 
SUBJECT: HAMBURG POLICE TRACK POLONIUM TRAIL 

HAMBURG 00000085 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Duane Butcher, Consul General, Consulate General Hamburg, State. REASON: 1.4 (b)

1. (SBU) Summary: Hamburg State Police (LKA) confirmed December 14 that Dmitry Kovtun had left positive traces of polonium 210 in Hamburg prior to his departure from Hamburg for London on November 1. A senior official in the Federal Interior Ministry in Berlin also confirmed the reports and noted the ongoing investigation. Hamburg police continue to examine where Kovtun was and what he did while in Germany, but are not yet able to confirm if Kovtun was transporting polonium or if he had been contaminated through contact with the substance prior to his arrival in Hamburg on October 28. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Pol/Econ Off and FSN Investigator met Hamburg LKA Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Officer and director of this special investigation Thomas Menzel December 14. Menzel, who is also Director of the Hamburg LKA Organized Crime Unit, explained that the Hamburg investigation started because officers on his team drawing from press reports recognized a connection between the Litvinenko case and the flight from Hamburg to London and began to investigate whether Kovtun or Andrei Lugovoi had been in Hamburg. They discovered that Kovtun was a registered resident at the multi-family building at Erzberger Strasse 4 in Hamburg’s Ottensen neighborhood and that he had flown to Hamburg on October 28 on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow. Menzel reported Hamburg authorities are working closely with the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) and is receiving assistance from the Federal Central Support Unit and the Federal Office of Radiation Protection. Menzel stated that Stuart Goodwin from Scotland Yard has been in Hamburg since December 12 and that cooperation between the British and Hamburg police has been excellent. While the BKA and various German agencies are involved in the investigation, Menzel confirmed that Hamburg is leading the inquiry.

3. (SBU) The investigation’s main focus is to uncover Kovtun’s whereabouts between October 28 and November 1 and to discover any polonium-contaminated sites in the Hamburg region. Menzel reported that the investigation has revealed:

 - Kovtun arrived in Hamburg October 28 on the Aeroflot flight from Moscow and was picked up from the airport in a BMW. He spent that night at the apartment of Marina Wall, his Russian/German ex-wife, at Erzberger Strasse 4. Kovtun has two apartments in the Erzberger Strasse building, his ex-wife’s residence and another apartment. Neighbors told police that he had not used the second apartment for years and it has been rented to other tenants. Wall’s apartment has tested positive for polonium.

 - On October 29, Kovtun spent the night at a house in Haselau outside of Hamburg, which is where police found the BMW.  Both the Haselau residence and the BMW are contaminated with polonium.

 - On October 30, Kovtun kept an appointment with the Office of Foreigner Registration in Hamburg-Altona, where he signed a document. His signature has tested positive for radiation. After visiting several locations in Hamburg, including a restaurant and gambling hall, Kovtun spent the night at the home of an Italian acquaintance on Kieler Strasse in Hamburg. None of these locations have tested positive for polonium.

 - Kovtun again spent the night of October 31 at Wall’s apartment on Erzberger Strasse. He departed by taxi for the airport early on November 1 and flew to London on the 6:40 am GermanWings flight.

4. (SBU) Menzel said the investigation is looking into several unanswered questions. Hamburg police are trying to discover whether Kovtun visited Hamburg prior to October 28 and where he was between November 1 and the date he arrived in Moscow. They are also looking into whether Lugovoi or any of the other individuals involved in the Litvinenko case have been to Hamburg in the recent past and have requested airlines to review their passenger lists. Other remaining questions concern whether there are any further contaminated locations in Hamburg or other parts of Germany. Investigators hope to find out more about Kovtun as an individual - what he did for a living, what his personal background was, and whether he had worked at the Russian Consulate in Hamburg in the past. Finally, Menzel was curious about a possible Italian connection to the Litvinenko
HAMBURG 00000085 002.2 OF 002
case and noted that Kovtun had met with an Italian national in Hamburg and that Italians played a role in the London investigation as well.

5. (C) Federal Interior Minister Deputy DG for Counterterrorism Gerhard Schindler discussed the status of the German investigation during a meeting on other topics with EMIN December 14. Schindler explained German officials retraced Kovtun’s steps to and from his ex-wife’s home in Hamburg. Schindler said Kovtun left polonium traces on everything he touched - vehicles, objects, clothes, and furniture. German investigators concluded Kovtun did not have polonium traces on his skin or clothes; Schindler said the polonium was coming out of his body, for example through his pores. German authorities had tested the German Wings airplane that had taken Kovtun from Hamburg to London; no traces of polonium were found. Germany had wanted to test the Aeroflot plane that flew Kovtun to Germany, and had prepared to ground it upon its next arrival in Germany. Schindler said Russian authorities must have found out about German plans because “at the last minute” Aeroflot swapped planes; Schindler said he did not expect Aeroflot to fly the other plane to Germany any time soon.

6. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin. BUTCHER