Report says British police identify Novichok suspects as Russians

AFP
British police have identified several Russians who they believe were behind the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the Press Association reported.
AFP

British police believe they have identified the suspects who carried out the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former Moscow double agent and his daughter and that they are Russian, the Press Association reported yesterday.

“Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time,” a source with knowledge of the investigation told the PA.

“They (investigators) are sure they (suspects) are Russian,” the source added.

Scotland Yard police headquarters refused to comment on the report.

Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in the southwestern English city of Salisbury on March 4 after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.

Both have since recovered.

Britain blamed Russia for the poisoning of Skripal, a former military intelligence colonel who was jailed for betraying Russian agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service.

He left Russia for Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

Russia has strongly denied involvement in the Skripal attack, sparking a row that has led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between Britain and its allies and Moscow.

Russia’s ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko told the BBC yesterday he had heard nothing official from the government.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This is an ongoing and complex investigation and I can’t comment on the speculation around it.”

Two Britons fell ill last month in a town near Salisbury after being exposed to Novichok, one of whom died.

Experts are seeking to establish whether the toxin was from the same batch used against the Skripals.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her 45-year-old partner Charlie Rowley collapsed at his house in Amesbury within hours of each other on June 30.

Sturgess died on July 8, prompting police to open a murder investigation, while Rowley has regained consciousness and is in stable condition.

The PA said investigators believe Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of nerve agent as the Skripals came into contact with.

Police have said it was detected in a “small bottle” at Rowley’s house.

Investigators are working to the theory that Sturgess sprayed Novichok straight onto her skin, the PA source said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons earlier this week said its inspectors had collected samples in the Amesbury case and were analyzing them.

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