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A contact of dead ex-spy is in hospital

One of three men who last met former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko before he fell fatally ill with radiation poisoning was himself admitted to a London hospital on Friday, the authorities said, after tests showed that he had a significant amount of radioactive material in his body.

The hospitalization of the man, Italian investigator Mario Scaramella, adds a further layer of confusion to the puzzle surrounding the death of Litvinenko, a vocal critic-in-exile of the Russian government. Although tests have been conducted on dozens of people who came into contact with Litvinenko after he fell ill, Scaramella is the only one to show more than a negligible amount of radiation in his body.

The Health Protection Agency also said "an adult member of Litvinenko's family" who was in close contact with him during his illness - a description that apparently applies only to his wife - had tested positive for low levels of radiation exposure. "The levels are not significant enough to result in any illness in the short term," the agency said.

Scaramella has said all along that he felt fine, that he was suffering from none of the debilitating symptoms that characterized Litvinenko's illness and that earlier tests for polonium-210, the isotope that killed Litvinenko, had turned up negative. University College Hospital, where he was admitted on Friday, said that Scaramella was "currently well and shows no symptoms of radiation poisoning."