Russian Federation spied on Skripal and his daughter for at least five years

14 April, 2018, 22:19 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Sergei and Yulia Skripal were being spied on by Russia for five years

Russia's ambassador to Britain said a claim by a British security advisor on Friday that Russian Federation spied on former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter for at least five years before they were attacked with a nerve agent was a "big surprise".

The door handle and email claims were made in a letter from Sir Mark Sedwill, the UK's national security adviser, to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

National security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill said cyber specialists from the GRU - Russian military intelligence - targeted Yulia Skripal's email accounts as far back as 2013.

He said: "A combination of credible open-source reporting and intelligence shows that in the 1980s the Soviet Union developed a new class of "fourth generation" nerve agents, known as Novichoks".

Skripal, 66, a former colonel in Russia's military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench in the cathedral city of Salisbury on March 4.

Russian Federation denies the British claims about Novichok, saying that it completed the destruction of all its Soviet-era chemical weapons arsenals previous year under global oversight.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday a report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not confirm the origin of the poison used against a former Russian spy, accusing his British counterpart of distorting the findings.

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"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", Sedwill said in the letter.

He said it included investigating ways of delivering nerve agents by applying them to door handles. "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks under the same programme".

Lavrov said the report does nothing to back the British allegations that Moscow was behind the attack.

'The Russian state has previously produced Novichoks and would still be capable of doing so'. Cyberspecialists from Russia's Foreign Intelligence Services hacked Ms. Skripal's email in 2013, the letter says.

"We get the impression that the British government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making an independent and transparent investigation impossible", Alexander Yakovenko told reporters in London.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that a new report on the poisoning of a former spy does nothing to support Britain's contention that Russian Federation was behind the attack.

He also questioned the authenticity of a statement issued by Ms Skripal through the Metropolitan Police saying she did not want to meet Russian officials. Her father remains hospitalized but British health officials say he is improving.

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