Ex-Russian spy critically ill after exposure to substance in UK
A former Russian spy was critically ill after being exposed to an unknown substance in western England, British broadcaster BBC said on Monday (March 5).
The BBC identified the man as Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in Britain after a spy swap between the United States and Russia in 2010.
Police said two people had been found unconscious on a bench on Sunday in the city of Salisbury. They were being treated for “suspected exposure to an unknown substance” and they remained critically ill, police said.
A hospital in Salisbury said earlier on Monday it was “dealing with a major incident involving a small number of casualties.” It said staff and patients should come to the hospital as usual.
Relations between Britain and Russia have been strained since the murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, a killing which a British inquiry said was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.
Skripal, a former colonel of Russia’s military intelligence, was convicted in Russia in 2006 on charges of espionage for Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency. He was sentenced to a 13-year prison term before he was pardoned in 2010 as part of a spy swap with the United States, according to media reports at the time.