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Mario Scaramella

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Mario Scaramella
Born (1970-04-23) 23 April 1970 (age 54)
Naples, Italy
Occupation(s)Lawyer, security consultant, nuclear expert
Known forSuspected of poisoning Alexander Litvinenko

Mario Scaramella (born 23 April 1970)[1] is a lawyer and security consultant.[2][3] He came to international prominence in 2006 in connection with the poisoning of the ex-Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Alexander Litvinenko. As responsible for intelligence analysis and production on KGB and military GRU espionage in Europe, he served as an investigator and adviser to the Mitrokhin Commission.[4][5] Scaramella was a suspect by the Italian justice department for calumny.[6]

While working for the Intelligence and Mitrokhin Dossier Investigative Commission at the Italian Parliament, Scaramella stated that Alexander Talik, a Ukrainian ex-KGB officer living in Naples, conspired with three other Ukrainians officers to assassinate Paolo Guzzanti, a senator and president of the Mitrokhin Commission. The Ukrainians were arrested and special weapons including grenades were confiscated; Talik said that Scaramella had used intelligence to overestimate the story of the assassination attempt, which brought the calumny charge on him. Talik also stated that rocket propelled grenades sent to him in Italy had in fact been sent by Scaramella himself as an undercover agent.[6]


Academic background[edit]

Between 1996 and 2000, Scaramella served as a full professor of international and environmental law at the Externado University and Del Rosario University in Bogotá, Colombia, where he served as advisor to the Head of National Police Gen. Rosso Serrano Cadena.[citation needed] He also held a post as Academic Director of the Environmental Crime Institute at the University of Naples and Full Professor of public law.[citation needed] Until 2006, Scaramella was best known for a memo stating that a Soviet submarine left nuclear mines in the Bay of Naples in 1970. Official reports by the Imnterational Atomic Energy Agency and International Maritime Organization confirmed his statement.[citation needed] He said that his team of experts had long been involved in investigating the smuggling of radioactive material by the KGB and its successors.[7]

Environmental Crime Prevention Program[edit]

Between 2000 and 2002, Scaramella was appointed by Steven Hermann, the Assistant Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency as secretary general of the organization Environmental Crime Prevention Program (ECPP). On 12 October 2000, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation with the secretariat of the Basel Convention on the environment, which is part of the United Nations Environment Programme. One of his few public appearances was at a 2002 security related conference, among with John Gannon, the CIA Deputy Director for Analysis and Production, for giving a lecture on "space anti-terror technologies".[8] ECPP's observership's status to the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter meetings was withdrawn in July 2007.[9]


On 1 November 2006, Scaramella met the Russian former FSB agent and defector Alexander Litvinenko for lunch at Itsu, a sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, London. Scaramella stated that he ate nothing and drank only water at the restaurant. On 3 November 2006 Litvinenko was admitted to his local hospital in north London, vomiting and in great pain. Two weeks later he was taken to University College Hospital, and it was confirmed that he had been exposed to polonium-210, the substance that was thought to have been eaten by Litvinenko at the aforementioned lunch, and which killed him.[10] Although Scaramella initially denied having the substance in his body, his lawyer made a statement on the same day saying that they would make no comment until the results of the tests were finalised.[11] A room at Ashdown Park Hotel in Sussex, where Scaramella is thought to have stayed whilst in the United Kingdom was sealed off due to possible contamination. Some news outlets have speculated that Scaramella may have been Litvinenko's assassin.[12]

On 3 December, Italian senator Paolo Guzzanti was quoted after speaking with Scaramella by phone, saying health officials had told Scaramella the dose of polonium he had received is usually a lethal dose. Guzzanti told Reuters: "They also said so far, nobody could ever survive this poison, so it is very unlikely he could. But, if he doesn't collapse in three months, there is a kind of hope ... They said that every six months ... the radioactivity decreases by half."[13] Later news suggested that he had only been exposed to minute traces of polonium.[14]

Litvinenko's brother Maxim, who lives in Italy, told that Scaramella wanted to use his brother as a source for his research into Italian politicians and their alleged links to the Russian intelligence services. According to Maxim, one of the things Litvinenko did for Scaramella was sit down in front of a video camera in early 2006 in Rome. Litvinenko said that the video should not be leaked to the press. In front of the camera, he went on saying that former FSB deputy chief Anatoly Trofimov warned him in 2000 that he should not move to Italy because Romano Prodi was "one of their men".[15] The allegations were rejected by Prodi. Litvinenko also said that "Trofimov did not exactly say that Prodi was a KGB agent, because the KGB avoids using that word."[16] Maxim said that he was paid €200 in cash to translate on the day Scaramella recorded the video. Scaramella paid Litvinenko €500–600 to cover travel expenses.[15]

Mitrokhin Commission[edit]

The Mitrokhin Commission was closed in 2006 with a majority and a minority report, without reaching shared conclusions, and without any concrete evidence given to support the original allegations of KGB ties to Italian politicians. Led by the centre-right coalition majority, it was criticized as politically motivated, as it was focused mainly on allegations against opposition figures.[17] In November 2006, the new Italian Parliament with a centre-left coalition majority instituted a commission to investigate the Mitrokhin Commission for allegations that it was manipulated for political purposes.[18]

In a December 2006 interview given to the television program La storia siamo noi,[19] colonel ex-KGB agent Oleg Gordievsky, whom Scaramella claimed as his source, confirmed the accusations made against Scaramella regarding the production of false material relating to Prodi and other Italian politicians,[20] and underlined their lack of reliability.[21] Around the same period, there was the publication of telephone interceptions between Paolo Guzzanti, the chairman of the Mitrokhin Commission and Forza Italia senator, and Scaramella. In the wiretaps, Guzzanti made it clear that the true intent of the Mitrokhin Commission was to support the hypothesis that Prodi would have been an agent financed or in any case manipulated by Moscow and the KGB.[22][23] As a result, Scaramella was charged for calumny.[6] In addition to the calumny charge, the result of the claim regarsing a Ukrainian official that he and Guzzanti were victim of an assassination attempt, he was charged of arms trafficking.[24]

On 24 December 2006, Scaramella returned to Italy where he was immediately arrested by DIGOS, a division of the Italian national police. He was charged with calumny.[6] According to prosecutor Pietro Salvitti, cited by La Repubblica and who indicted Scaramella, Nicolò Pollari, head of SISMI indicted in the Abu Omar case, as well as SISMI no. 2, Marco Mancini, who was arrested in July 2006 for the same reason, were some of the informers, alongside Scaramella, of Guzzanti. According to Salvitti, beside targeting Prodi and his staff, this network also aimed at defaming General Giuseppe Cucchi (the then director of the CESIS), Milan's judges Armando Spataro, in charge of the Abu Omar case, and Guido Salvini, as well as La Repubblica reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D'Avanzo.[25] In February 2008, Scaramella struck a plea bargain deal to a four-year sentence; he did not serve any dail in jail due to a pardon.[24]


  1. ^ "Mitrokhin al veleno. Intervista a Mario Scaramella". L'Espresso (in Italian). 30 November 2006. Archived from the original on 20 June 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
  2. ^ "Sushi bar man is nuclear waste expert". The Evening Standard. 25 November 2006. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
  3. ^ "What happened to the other man who took tea with Alexander Litvinenko?". The Independent. 13 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Prodi takes action on KGB 'smear'". BBC News. 1 December 2006. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  5. ^ Barber, Tony (1 December 2006). "Prodi to sue over allegations of KGB links". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d Popham, Peter (28 December 2006). "Scaramella questioned in Rome over arms trafficking allegations". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2007.
  7. ^ Milmo, Cahal; Popham, Peter; Bennetto, Jason (29 November 2006). "Litvinenko 'smuggled nuclear material'". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 14 January 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2007.
  8. ^ "The Glocal Strategy – Priverno – 15–18 maggio 2002" (in Italian). CEAS. Archived from the original on 2 June 2002. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  9. ^ Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 and Its 1996 Protocol[permanent dead link], International Maritime Organization, Ref. T5/5.01, 24 July 2007.
  10. ^ "Pair test positive for polonium". BBC News. 1 December 2006. Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
  11. ^ "UK finds two more polonium cases in spy probe". Yahoo! News. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 8 December 2006. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Tracce di polonio su due aerei British Airways Un amico della spia uccisa accusa Scaramella". La Repubblica (in Italian). 29 November 2006. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  13. ^ "Radioactive substance found in Russian spy contact". Reuters. 2 December 2006.
  14. ^ "Italian emerges as an odd footnote in Litvinenko case". International Herald Tribune. 8 December 2006. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  15. ^ a b "Italy gives Litvinenko contact withering welcome". Reuters. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  16. ^ "Prodi slams TV over spy claim". Reuters. 23 January 2007. Archived from the original on 12 November 2021. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  17. ^ Stille, Alexander (11 December 2006). "The Secret Life of Mario Scaramella". Slate. Archived from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  18. ^ Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Licenza di uccidere?". La storia siamo noi (in Italian). December 2006. Archived from the original on 13 February 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  20. ^ "'Il gruppo della Mitrokhin voleva Prodi e D'Alema'". La Repubblica (in Italian). 27 November 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  21. ^ Bonini, Carlo; D'Avanzo, Giuseppe (7 December 2006). "L'ex spia del Kgb su Scaramella 'Un bugiardo, voleva rovinare Prodi'". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  22. ^ "'Così la Mitrokhin indagava su Prodi'". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 30 November 2006. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  23. ^ "Mitrokhin, la magistratura indaga, l'Udc prende le distanze". L'Unità (in Italian). 1 December 2006. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  24. ^ a b "Mitrokhin, Scaramella patteggia 4 anni ma non resterà in carcere". Reuters (in Italian). 14 February 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  25. ^ Il falso dossier di Scaramella - "Così la Russia manipola Prodi", La Repubblica, 11 January 2007 (in Italian) Archived March 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]