Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Skripal case 'echoes' Litvinenko death: United Kingdom foreign secretary

Sergei Skripal Image Sergei Skripal was given refuge in the UK as part of a spy swap
Melinda Barton | 07 March, 2018, 10:31

Skripal passed intelligence to British officials at the same time Steele became MI6's Kremlin specialist.

That's according to a source close to an investigation into the incident who said the man is Sergei Skripal, a former military intelligence officer who was convicted in Russian Federation in 2006 of spying for Britain.

Former spy for both the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and Britain's M16 Warren Reed told Sunrise "it is nearly impossible to imagine" Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin wouldn't be behind the incident.

Russia freed him in 2010 as part of a US-Russian spy swap and he moved to Britain.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed Mr Johnson's remarks as "wild".

"It is important to reiterate that they have not declared it as a terrorist incident and at this stage they are keeping an open mind as to what happened".

Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of the UK's Metropolitan Police, told the BBC the investigation will involve Britain's "counterterrorism network" if deemed necessary.

Last Sunday, he and his daughter, Yulia, were found collapsed on a park bench in the southern city of Salisbury.

A British judge wrote in a 2016 report that Litvinenko's death was an assassination carried out by Russia's security services - with the likely approval of Putin.

England was the only team from the qualify for tournament, which is scheduled to take place in June and July.

"I had hoped it never would happen again, and when I saw those pictures of special suits, of course it was quite hard to believe it might happen again", she said.

"Should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, then Her Majesty's Government will respond appropriately and robustly". Both are still critically ill in intensive care, police said.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images A journalist shows CCTV footage on a mobile phone believed to show Sergei Skripal, 66 and his duaghter Yulia Skripal, in her 30s, who were found unconscious in Salisbury town centre on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. One of them remains in the hospital.

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent who came to Britain in a spy swap in 2010, lies in critical condition in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance.

A bridge was shut on Tuesday evening, while Salisbury's Zizzi restaurant and The Bishop's Mill pub remain sealed off.

Among the 10 so-called Russian sleeper agents deported by the United States as part of the deal was Anna Chapman, who had previously lived in London.

Johnson went on however to refer indirectly to suspected Russian involvement.

Tugendhat says Britain should mount a robust response if it does turn out to be Russian aggression.

He added that Britain may have to look at new sanctions on Russia if suspicions that it is involved in the illness of the former Russian agent are well-founded.

He said: "Clearly it's a very unusual case and the critical thing is to get to the bottom of what has caused this incident as quickly as possible".

The case has disturbing echoes of the killing of former spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, who was poisoned when he drank tea contaminated with radioactive polonium after meeting Russian agents in a London restaurant.

AT 3.47pm on Sunday, a man and a woman strolled past a fitness club in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury. "They do all die and there can be a tendency for some conspiracy theories", adding "[We] have to be alive to the fact of state threats as illustrated by the Litvinenko case". I think we will have to have a serious conversation about our engagement with Russian Federation, and for my own part, I think it will be very hard to see how we can.

He was jailed for 13 years by a Russian court in August 2006 after being convicted of "high treason in the form of espionage".