LONDON – The mystery Italian contact of poisoned former spy Alexander Litvinenko came out of hiding Tuesday to deny he had anything to do with the attempted "assassination" of the ex-KGB agent who is fighting for his life at a London hospital after being poisoned, possibly by a radioactive substance.
Mario Scaramella, 38, who describes himself as a defense consultant, was surrounded by four bodyguards as he arrived for the Rome conference with journalists, who arrived at the secret location after receiving text messages on their cell phones.
Scaramella revealed how he had not eaten at the sushi bar where he and Litvinenko dined, but that the former spy helped himself to fish from a buffet and was brought soup by a waiter. Scaramella said he only had water to drink.
He stressed he had nothing to do with the poisoning and blamed at the Russian secret services.
"I was in London to meet Mr. Litvinenko because I wanted to discuss with him some alarming news," Scaramella told reporters. "The information I had received was very disturbing and contained details of plots against Russians both in Italy and Great Britain.
"I called him and we arranged to meet as we always do in Piccadilly Circus. I have met him several times. He is a very good source of mine and has contacts in Russia.
"I was with him for maybe 30-45 minutes. We were downstairs and there were no other people there.
"I had already had lunch so I had nothing to eat — and had a glass of water.
"Mr. Litvinenko had some fish from a buffet and some soup was brought to us. He personally took his food from the buffet. I paid for the bill..."
"I told him that I had received some very worrying and disturbing information. I had been given a list of names and lots of facts from a contact.
"The information was a list of people — it was a hit list and on that list was his name, my name and Paolo Guzzanti [head of the Italian commission investigating KGB activities in Italy].
"It was unbelievable and there were also names of people in Britain on it. I asked him to make a call to his people in Russia to evaluate it.
"Mr. Litvinenko told me not to worry about it. The arrangement was that I would call him later that night or the following morning.
"When I called him back the next morning his wife said that he was very sick but she laughed it off saying half of London was ill."
Scaramella also described how Litvinkeno had mentioned he had been at a meeting beforehand.
"He said to me that he was in London to see some people in the morning and that he would be free to see me in the afternoon," he said.
"When he arrived he did not mention who he met but I understand the authorities are investigating the possibility he was poisoned at this meeting.
"The information I received was in two e-mails and I passed that information to the British authorities to the intelligence services and the police through diplomatic channels.
"The information was disturbingly serious and these people are very dangerous. I was warned to be very careful as these people are well organised.
"The information regarded plots to do something both in Italy and Great Britain. There were several Russian people in Britain on that list as well as Litvinenko, Mr. Guzzanti and myself."
He refused to elaborate on where the list had come from other than to say it came "from someone who lives out of Russia."
When asked if he was scared and what steps he had taken to increase his own personal security, Scaramella said: "I don't want to answer that question. These people are very dangerous. We are talking about people involved in the murder of [Russian journalist] Anna Politkovskaya."
He also described how there was a strong connection between the Russian Mafia and the former KGB as well as their replacement intelligence service the FSB and SVR.
Scaramella also revealed how Litvinenko had provided information which led to the arrest of six Ukrainians who were smuggling arms between Russia and Italy for an attempted hit.
He added: "About a year ago Litvinenko contacted me to say he had details about arms being smuggled to Italy.
"With that information I contacted the Italian intelligence services and he also spoke to them. It led to the arrest of six Ukrainians near Teramo who were found with arms.
"They had hidden powerful grenades — strong enough to take out a tank or an armored car — inside two hollowed out Bibles.
"The information was that these grenades were intended for a hitman from the former Eastern bloc who was living in the Naples area."
When asked directly what he thought of the attempt on Litvinenko's life, Scaramella said: "It was a political assassination."