Re­ports: UK nerve poi­son­ing sus­pects had ties to Krem­lin

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION -

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.

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