'Alexander Lebedev may be dying.' That is the startling intro on an interview with the new owner of the Evening Standard and possible bidder for the Independent by Kate Weinberg in the Daily Telegraph today.
She writes that the former-KGB spy turned London newspaper proprietor "mentions casually that he is being treated for mercury poisoning. Medical tests have shown a mysterious spike in his blood mercury levels to 14 times the normal limit.
"His Belgian endocrinologist has warned him that it may well be high enough to enter his nervous system, then his brain, and begin to kill off his memory."
Weinberg writes: "Mr Lebedev's condition has echoes of another former KGB spy, Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London in 2006. It also reads like a discarded plotline from a John Le Carre novel: The Spy Who Got a Bad Cold."
The interview quotes Lebedev on the Independent: "I am following the picture," he says, of the financial crisis enveloping The Independent. "There are things to consider… the inevitable matter of redundancies and whether it has lost its niche in the market."
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