- Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is critically ill after being exposed to a mystery substance on Sunday, the BBC reported.
- British police are investigating after he and a woman in her 30s were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping centre.
- Skripal was imprisoned in Moscow for passing intelligence to British spies. He was later released as part of a spy swap deal with the US.
A former Russian spy is critically ill in a British hospital after being exposed to a mystery substance, according to the BBC.
The UK broadcaster reported that 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and a woman in her 30s were taken ill on Sunday at a shopping centre in Salisbury, south England.
Police declared a “major incident” in the region, and on Monday evening they confirmed that a man and a woman were found “unconscious on a bench” in The Maltings retail complex. Wiltshire Police said:
“The pair, who we believe are known to each other, did not have any visible injuries and were taken to Salisbury District Hospital. They are currently being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance. Both are currently in a critical condition in intensive care.
“Because we are still at the very early stages of the investigation, we are unable to ascertain whether or not a crime has taken place.
“Alongside our partner agencies, we are conducting some extensive enquiries to determine exactly what led to these two people falling unconscious and clarify whether or not any criminal activity has happened.”
Police did not comment on the identity of the substance that Skripal and his associate were exposed to. They are both in intensive care at Salisbury District Hospital.
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Skripal was granted asylum in Britain after being pardoned by Russia in a 2010 “spy swap” deal with the US, under which 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI were released.
The ex-Russian military intelligence colonel was jailed by Moscow for 13 years after passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the BBC said.
Some observers have already drawn comparisons with Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB spy who was poisoned in a luxury London hotel in 2006. He drunk tea poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope and, from his deathbed, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder.
- via The Telegraph