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British judge to hold secret hearing to assess evidence about poisoned Russian agent

FILE - Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, arrives for the first day of a scheduled two-day Pre-Inquest Review at Camden Town Hall in London, in this Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 file photo. British media organizations are challenging a government secrecy bid for parts of the inquest into the death of a former Russian intelligence agent poisoned in London. Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital in 2006, with the rare radioactive substance polonium-210 being found in his body. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, file)The Associated Press

A British judge says he will hold a secret hearing to assess whether some evidence about the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko should be kept from the public.

Litvinenko died in London in November 2006 after drinking tea laced with the radioactive isotope polonium-210. His family says he was working for Britain's intelligence services, and believes the Russian state was behind his death.

Judge Robert Owen is due to oversee a coroner's inquest, held to determine the facts about violent or unexplained deaths.

Britain's government wants some evidence kept secret for security reasons.

Owen said Wednesday he would examine that evidence behind closed doors, but promised to give the government request the "most stringent and critical examination." He said he could make the evidence public in the future.