The Russian agency involved in studying the remains of Yasser Arafat denied on Tuesday that it had arrived at any conclusions as to the cause of death of the former Palestinian leader, despite reports that the agency’s chief rejected the possibility of polonium poisoning.
Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) was one of three international institutes involved in exhuming Arafat’s remains in November 2012. The Longtime PLO leader died seven years earlier.
Russia’s Interfax earlier quoted FMBA head Vladimir Uiba as saying he doubted a report published over the weekend saying that Swiss radiation experts had found traces of polonium on Arafat’s clothing.
“He could not have been poisoned by polonium,” Uiba was quoted as saying by Interfax. “The Russian experts who conducted the investigation did not find traces of this substance.”
FMBA quickly denied that Uiba had ever issued such a statement to Interfax.
“We have not publicized any official results of our forensic review,” a spokesman for the agency told AFP. “Neither have we publicly confirmed nor denied media reports about there being or not being polonium in Arafat’s remains.”
Meanwhile, Interfax stood by its story. The deputy editor of Interfax’s political news section said Uiba made his comments in a sit-down interview.
“The correspondent and I sat down with Uiba for an interview and this is what he said,” the deputy editor of Interfax’s political news section told AFP. “If the (FMBA) press service later decided to issue that kind of statement, then it will rest on their conscience.”