Former Russian spy critically ill in UK

06 March, 2018, 01:59 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • SOLVENT    
     NO ENTRY Hospital security staff were forced to turn patients away

Skripal, who Russia said betrayed its agents to British intelligence, was swapped for Russian spies caught in the United States as part of a Cold War style exchange in Vienna in 2010.

He and a woman, 33, were found unconscious in a shopping center in Salisbury, south-west England, on Sunday.

The substance has not been identified.

Meanwhile, police said they were looking into a "major incident".

Skripal was convicted in Russian Federation of spying for Britain's MI6 intelligence agency and was sentenced in 2006 on charges of espionage.

Russian Federation said Col Skripal had been paid $100,000 for the information, which he had been supplying from the 1990s.

He was one of four convicts given a pardon, and one of two sent to Britain after a spy swap in July 2010 - described as the largest since the Cold War.

Officers have also been to a property in Salisbury believed to be Mr Skripal's home. Both were in intensive care, it said.

A number of locations in the city centre were cordoned off and the A&E department was closed as teams in full protective gear used hoses to decontaminate the street. They said he had lost his wife in recent years.

Freya Church, who saw the couple on the bench, told the BBC they "looked so out of it". She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe.

"He was doing some unusual hand movements, looking up to the sky", she said, adding that "they looked so out of it I thought even if I did step in, I wasn't sure how I could help".

In 2006, Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel.

The two people, who are believed to be known to each other, did not have any visible injuries.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden of Wiltshire Police explained: "We are conducting some extensive enquiries to determine exactly what led to these two people falling unconscious and clarify whether or not any criminal activity has happened".

A counter-terrorism incident has "not been declared", but officers have access to a "wide range of specialist resources and services", he said.


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