British counter-terror police offer expertise after ex-Russian spy collapses – National


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British counter-terror specialists provided experience Tuesday to police in southern England Tuesday as they sought to unravel the thriller of why a former Russian spy fell critically ailing following publicity to an “unknown substance.”

Authorities maintained a cordon close to the spot — a bench close to a shopping center — the place former double agent Sergei Skripal and an unidentified girl collapsed Sunday in Salisbury, 145 kilometers southwest of London. British media reported that the girl was Skripal’s daughter.

Ex-Russian spy becomes critically ill after exposure to unknown substance in Britain

Although authorities try to maintain an open thoughts, the incident drew parallels to the loss of life of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 11 years in the past in London.

“I feel we now have to keep in mind that Russian exiles usually are not immortal, they do all die and there is usually a tendency for some conspiracy theories,” Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley advised the BBC.

“However likewise we now have to be alive to the very fact of state threats as illustrated by the Litvinenko case.”

Skripal, 66, who was convicted in Russia on costs of spying for Britain and sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in jail. He was freed in 2010 as a part of a spy swap, which adopted the publicity of a hoop of Russian sleeper brokers in the US.

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The Kremlin mentioned Russia has not been approached by British authorities to assist in the investigation. However Dimitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, mentioned Tuesday at a every day convention name with media in Russia that “Moscow is all the time able to cooperate.”

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Wiltshire Police, which is answerable for the Salisbury space, mentioned the person and girl appeared to know each other and had no seen accidents.

“They’re presently being handled for suspected publicity to an unknown substance. Each are presently in a important situation in intensive care,” police mentioned in a press release.

The invention led to a dramatic decontamination effort. Crews in billowing yellow moon fits labored into the evening spraying down the road, and the Salisbury hospital’s emergency room was closed.

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A closed-circuit tv picture of a person and girl strolling by way of an alleyway connecting the Zizzi restaurant and the bench the place Skripal and the girl have been discovered is believed to be of curiosity to police.

“Police had have a look at the footage and have been all in favour of these two individuals. It was the one picture they took away,” mentioned Cain Prince, 28, the supervisor of a close-by fitness center. “They needed an inventory of everybody within the fitness center between three p.m. and four p.m. as properly.”

Public data record Skripal as having an handle in Salisbury.

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Skripal served with Russia’s army intelligence, usually identified by its Russian-language acronym GRU, and retired in 1999. He then labored on the International Ministry till 2003 and later turned concerned in enterprise.

After his 2004 arrest in Moscow, he confessed to having been recruited by British intelligence in 1995 and mentioned he offered details about GRU brokers in Europe, receiving over $100,000 in return.

On the time of Skripal’s trial, the Russian media quoted the FSB home safety company as saying that the harm from his actions may very well be in comparison with the hurt inflicted by Oleg Penkovsky, a GRU colonel who spied for the US and Britain. Penkovsky was executed in 1963.

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The circumstances surrounding Sunday’s incident have been nonetheless murky and police urged the general public to not speculate. However few might keep away from invoking the identify of Litvinenko — the previous Russian agent who died after ingesting polonium-210-laced tea in a swanky London resort in 2006.

His sickness was initially handled as unexplained; proof ultimately emerged indicating he had been intentionally poisoned with the radioactive materials.

A British decide wrote in a 2016 report that Litvinenko’s loss of life was an assassination carried out by Russia’s safety providers — with the probably approval of Putin. The Russian authorities has denied any accountability.

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As British authorities sought solutions, the nation’s senior politicians are expressing alarm. The lawmaker who heads Parliament’s international affairs committee mentioned the circumstances recommend Russian involvement.

“It’s too early to say whether or not it’s sure or not, however it definitely bears all of the hallmarks of a Russian assault,” Conservative legislator Tom Tugendhat mentioned.

Tugendhat mentioned Britain ought to mount a sturdy response if it does change into Russian aggression. He mentioned that would embody journey bans, sanctions and the freezing or property.

“What must be completed is for the entire authorities to become involved in responding to what quantities to a tender struggle in opposition to the U.Ok., taking within the cyber-hacking they’ve completed and the assorted aggressions they’ve been concerned in.”

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