UK Probe into ex-spy’s suspected poisoning continues

Probe into ex-spy’s suspected poisoning continues

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Probe into ex-spy’s suspected poisoning continues

 The investigation into last weekend’s incident regarding an ex-Russian spy and his daughter continues as the U.K. has stepped up its efforts to enlighten the circumstances surrounding the mysterious case.

As the U.K. government said it would respond “appropriately and robustly” depending on an investigation into the incident that saw former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter hospitalized in a critically ill condition, Russia has denied having any information related to the incident.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to hospital after being found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on Sunday.

Emergency services said they believed the father and daughter had been exposed to an unknown substance.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated that they did not have any information as to the reason for “all this story”.

“At the same time we ask that you pay attention to the fact that everything that happened to Skripal was immediately used to ratchet up anti-Russian sentiments,” a statement by Russia said.

“Before anything is clarified, speculations started circulating. We see that this [anti-Russian] campaign is well rehearsed with all these statements, including from Great Britain’s officials.”

The statement said Russian officials could not help but conclude that the whole thing was a “provocation aiming to complicate Russia-U.K. relation”.

It added that they had not received any cooperation request from British officials concerning the investigation.

Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd is convening on Wednesday an emergency national security meeting (COBRA) — a mechanism that brings together high-level officials usually after terror incidents — to discuss the investigation, which the country’s counterterrorism teams are now running.

– Appropriate response 

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it would be wrong to speculate, but the MPs  “will note the echoes of the death of [former KGB agent] Alexander Litvinenko in 2006”.

“I can reassure the House that, should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, then Her Majesty’s government will respond appropriately and robustly,” he said on Tuesday in an urgent question session at the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, detectives who are probing the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have appealed for public information as scientists from a military research facility at Porton Down are examining an “unknown substance”, which is believed to have been collected from the scene.

Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia in 2010. He had been convicted of “high treason in the form of espionage” by a Moscow military court in 2006 and was sentenced to imprisonment for 13 years after admitting that he had leaked information to British intelligence services.

He is one of the four Russians exchanged for 10 “sleeper” agents planted by Moscow in the U.S.

Sunday’s incident is reminiscent of the poisoning of former KGB agent, Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko by a radioactive substance in 2006.

Litvinenko died at the hospital shortly after drinking tea laced with polonium-210 in a central London hotel.

His family believes he was working for British intelligence services at the time and was killed by Russian secret agents.

Former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun have been identified as the prime suspects. However, both have denied any involvement.

The detectives in charge of the Skripal investigation are due to give a press conference Wednesday afternoon.