Russian spy mystery deepens as daughter confirmed as second victim

A woman found unconscious on a shopping center bench in southern England next to a Russian former double agent is his...

Posted: Mar 6, 2018 3:06 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2018 3:06 PM

A woman found unconscious on a shopping center bench in southern England next to a Russian former double agent is his daughter, a source told CNN on Tuesday.

Sergei Skripal, 66, a former Russian military official convicted of spying for the UK, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, who was visiting from Russia, are critically ill in a UK hospital after "suspected exposure to an unknown substance."

British counterterrorism police are investigating how the pair ended up slumped on a bench Sunday in Salisbury, England.

The incident has not been declared terrorism. But due to the unusual circumstances, the specialized counterterrorism unit will lead the investigation, London's Metropolitan Police said Tuesday.

Skripal was convicted in Russia of spying for Britain before being granted refuge in the UK after a high-profile spy swap between the United States and Russia in 2010.

Salisbury, perhaps best known as the stopping-off point for tourists visiting nearby Stonehenge, has become the unlikely center of an extensive police probe into the mysterious circumstances around how Skripal and his daughter fell ill.

The pair were found on a bench in an unremarkable outdoor shopping complex, surrounded by a handful of chain eateries, including the Italian restaurant Zizzi, which was closed as part of the inquiry.

They did not have any visible injuries, according to police.

Images taken outside the restaurant Monday night showed investigators in anti-contamination suits searching the premises. Authorities have declined to name the substance to which the pair were exposed.

A small number of emergency services personnel were treated immediately afterward, local police said Tuesday. One of them remains in the hospital.

Salisbury resident Freya Church described seeing the pair on the bench appearing "out of it."

"She sort of leant in on him, it looked like she'd passed out maybe. He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky," Church told Reuters on Monday.

"I felt like I should step in but to be honest they looked so out of it that I thought that even if I did step in I wasn't sure how I would help. So yeah, I just left them, but it looked like they'd been taking something quite strong."

By Tuesday morning, the bench had been covered in a white forensic tent, a light drizzle of rain falling on reporters gathered at the scene.

The case has drawn comparisons to the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died a slow death after drinking tea laced with highly radioactive polonium-210 in a Mayfair hotel of London in 2006.

A detailed UK inquiry later concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin probably approved the operation by Russian agents to kill Litvinenko. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the UK investigation as politically motivated.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Skripal case, saying "we do not have any information" about the situation, and adding that he did not know whether Skripal still had Russian citizenship.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday the Skripal case had "echoes" of what happened to Litvinenko.

While he stopped short of "pointing fingers" of responsibility, Johnson said during a Parliament session that the UK would act robustly if "evidence emerges of state responsibility." He then suggested the UK's participation in this summer's World Cup in Russia could potentially be affected.

"I think it will be very difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way, and we will certainly have to consider that," Johnson said.

A UK Foreign Office representative later clarified those comments, stating that Johnson was referring to the UK's diplomatic representation at the event, rather than its soccer team.

The Russian Embassy in London hit back at Johnson's remarks, saying it "looks like the script of yet another anti-Russian campaign has already been written."

In a statement, the embassy said it was "impressed" by Johnson's comments in Parliament, saying he spoke "in such a manner as if the investigation was already over and Russia was found responsible for what had happened in Salisbury."

"We regret that instead of a proper official clarification on the issue the foreign secretary chose to threaten Russia with retribution," it read.

Who is Sergei Skripal?

Skripal arrived in the UK as part of an elaborately choreographed spy swap conducted by the United States and Russia in which the two countries exchanged agents on chartered planes on the runway at an airport in Vienna, Austria.

Among the 10 so-called Russian sleeper agents deported by the United States as part of the deal was Anna Chapman, who had previously lived in London.

Skripal was one of four Russians who traveled in the opposite direction after then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pardoned him.

According to previous reports by Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti, Skripal was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006 for spying for the UK.

It quoted Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, as saying Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence colonel, was convicted for "treason in the form of espionage" and that he had been recruited by Britain's MI6 intelligence service.

The report said he had spied for Britain as an intelligence officer during the 1990s and he had continued to communicate with MI6 after his retirement in 1999.

Russian court officials said Skripal had received at least $100,000 for his collaboration with MI6, RIA Novosti reported.

According to the FSB, Skripal's "actions caused serious damage to the national defense and security." The intelligence service added that MI6 paid Skripal for the information in foreign currency, which was transferred monthly to his account in a Spanish bank.

Russian newspaper reports at the time of his conviction said Skripal had shared information about dozens of his former colleagues operating undercover in Europe, in particular their secret meeting venues, addresses and passwords.

The FSB said that Skripal had admitted his guilt and gave truthful testimony about his activities, which the court had taken into consideration in sentencing him.

Skripal is believed to have lived in the UK since his release from Russian custody in 2010.

Skripal's daughter is thought to be one of the few members of his immediate family still alive after his wife, Lyudmila, and son Alexander died in recent years. Gravestones bearing their names have been seen at a cemetery in Salisbury.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 481831

Reported Deaths: 6518
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin999721578
Ramsey42807796
Dakota35912384
Anoka33081383
Washington21896253
Stearns18695200
St. Louis14668262
Scott13159107
Wright12447114
Olmsted1172088
Sherburne866673
Carver759940
Clay685386
Rice665391
Blue Earth588035
Kandiyohi577474
Crow Wing516280
Chisago494744
Otter Tail479670
Benton441890
Winona414849
Mower400731
Douglas391068
Nobles385847
Goodhue383768
Polk341362
McLeod337049
Beltrami335751
Morrison322446
Lyon311543
Itasca309946
Becker308141
Isanti304153
Carlton298744
Steele298211
Pine281216
Freeborn278023
Nicollet253141
Todd244930
Brown241537
Le Sueur231520
Mille Lacs225847
Cass218224
Waseca207317
Meeker206534
Martin187528
Wabasha18553
Roseau178917
Hubbard160140
Houston156714
Dodge15144
Renville148040
Redwood146427
Fillmore13648
Chippewa135735
Cottonwood133620
Wadena129220
Pennington127816
Faribault122016
Aitkin118133
Sibley116610
Rock115613
Watonwan11568
Kanabec107019
Pipestone100824
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9428
Jackson92610
Swift87318
Pope7935
Marshall77015
Stevens7368
Lake73018
Clearwater71714
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66610
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5123
Lincoln5032
Grant4898
Norman4658
Unassigned45468
Mahnomen4407
Kittson40821
Red Lake3564
Traverse3015
Lake of the Woods2131
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 360369

Reported Deaths: 5380
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57811545
Linn20555312
Scott18229205
Black Hawk16205287
Woodbury14896211
Johnson1376873
Dubuque13494194
Dallas1128090
Pottawattamie10724141
Story1014845
Warren551172
Clinton541683
Cerro Gordo531980
Webster516786
Marshall494872
Sioux492369
Buena Vista471436
Des Moines455261
Muscatine448591
Wapello4279108
Jasper407565
Plymouth393377
Lee373551
Marion357369
Jones293854
Henry292335
Carroll284648
Bremer277354
Crawford272435
Boone258830
Washington253547
Benton251154
Mahaska222946
Jackson220938
Dickinson216538
Tama212064
Kossuth207354
Clay193125
Hamilton191541
Delaware188739
Winneshiek187126
Fayette184334
Buchanan183630
Page181919
Hardin180239
Wright179631
Harrison178869
Cedar176222
Clayton167853
Butler165631
Mills162720
Floyd162339
Madison153618
Cherokee153535
Poweshiek153430
Hancock146429
Lyon145641
Iowa143823
Allamakee143745
Appanoose138547
Grundy138330
Jefferson137632
Winnebago137530
Calhoun133111
Cass132548
Mitchell130240
Louisa127741
Union126131
Chickasaw124613
Sac123718
Emmet120940
Shelby120033
Franklin118319
Humboldt117125
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104321
Montgomery103936
Howard102921
Clarke99820
Keokuk97729
Unassigned9320
Monroe92928
Adair91726
Ida90732
Pocahontas85219
Davis82223
Monona81426
Greene76610
Lucas72921
Osceola70014
Worth6927
Taylor66312
Fremont5889
Decatur5739
Van Buren55818
Ringgold51720
Wayne48721
Audubon4819
Adams3254
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 26°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 25°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 28°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 25°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 25°
Minor snow chances into the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events