Reports: UK nerve poisoning suspects had ties to Kremlin
NEWDELHI: Documents uncovered by reporters in the UK and Russia have poked holes in the defence mounted by two Russian suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attacks, formally tying the duo to Moscow.
Britain has accused Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov of using the nerve agent Novichok in an attempt to kill former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. Prosecutors say the two men work for Russian military intelligence.
Petrov and Boshirov rejected the accusations, saying they had visited the historic town as tourists to Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. In an interview to a Kremlin-backed TV channel, they insisted they were sports nutritionists, not spies.
However, documents published by news website Bellingcat and Russian investigative outlet The Insider, including the passport information dossier of one of the suspects, proves otherwise.
The dossier bears a “top secret” marking and a telephone number with the order “Do not give information”, The Guardian reported.
When a reporter from its sister paper, The Observer, called the telephone number, the phone was directed to the Russian defence ministry, “where a clerk said he would not speak with journalists or provide any information”.
Other documents included flight manifests that indicated Petrov and Boshirov bought their tickets at the last minute, contradicting their claims that their trip had been long-standing.
The Guardian said a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry rejected the report, stating she believed Bellingcat had ties to Western intelligence.
The latest developments came a day after Dutch authorities confirmed they had caught and expelled two Russian spies who were plotting cyber-sabotage of a Swiss defence laboratory that was analysing the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals.