ROME -- An Italian man who met with a former KGB agent on the day the Russian fell fatally ill from radiation poisoning was arrested yesterday, the Italian's father said.
The accusations against Mario Scaramella involved arms trafficking and slander. They were not believed to be directly related to the investigation into the poisoning death of the Russian, Alexander Litvinenko.
Scaramella, the first person tied to the poisoning case to have been arrested, met Litvinenko at a London sushi bar on Nov. 1, the day the former KGB agent fell ill. Litvinenko died of poisoning from radioactive polonium-210 on Nov. 23.
The Italian's father, Amedeo Scaramella, said his son was arrested in Naples after returning from London. Rome prosecutors have accused him of international arms trafficking and slander, and he was being taken to Rome, according to his father.
Scaramella's lawyer, Sergio Rastrelli, told RAI Tg1 TV news that he was scheduled to be questioned on Wednesday.
Rastrelli said he expected Scaramella to tell investigators that all his actions were "legitimate and rightful."
Scaramella said he showed Litvinenko e-mail messages at the meeting on Nov. 1 from a confidential source.
Those messages are said to identify the possible killers of a Russian investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, and to list other potential targets for assassination -- including himself and Litvinenko.
On his deathbed, Litvinenko blamed the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, for his poisoning. The Kremlin has denied this allegation.
Scaramella also was hospitalized for several days in London. Later, he said doctors had told him he had received five times the lethal dose of polonium-210, though he showed no symptoms. He left the hospital a few days later.
Overall, 10 people in Britain tested positive for exposure to radiation since Litvinenko died, including two staff members at the Millennium Hotel in London.
The day that Litvinenko met with Scaramella, the Russian met with Andrei Lugovoi, also a former Soviet agent; Dmitry Kovtun, a Russian businessman; and Vyacheslav Sokolenko, head of a private Russian security firm, at the bar at the hotel.
All three have denied involvement in the former spy's death.
Scaramella has been gathering information for Paolo Guzzanti of the Italian Senate, the former chairman of a parliamentary commission that examined cases of past KGB infiltration in Italy. Guzzanti said the Italian accusations against Scaramella appeared to be unrelated to the poisoning.
Guzzanti said Scaramella told him Saturday that he was likely to be arrested upon his return to Italy. "I told him to stay there for Christmas, but he said to me, 'No, I have no intention of appearing like a fugitive,' " Guzzanti said.
Last month, the daily Corriere della Sera published excerpts of an alleged phone conversation between Scaramella and Guzzanti, in which Scaramella was quoted as telling Guzzanti that he could not get data showing Prime Minister Romano Prodi had been a KGB agent. Prodi's office has said he would sue unnamed parties who defamed his character.