Salisbury attack: Russian spies 'arrested on way to Swiss lab testing novichok samples', reports say

By On September 14, 2018

Salisbury attack: Russian spies 'arrested on way to Swiss lab testing novichok samples', reports say

Two Russian spies have been arrested while allegedly on their way to a laboratory that tested novichok samples from Salisbury.

The two suspects, who are not the same pair charged with launching the attack on Sergei Skripal, were detained in The Hague in spring and sent back to Russia.

Intelligence services suspected they were on their way to the Speiz Laboratory in Switzerland, sources told the Tages-Anzeiger and NRC Handelsblad.

Accredited by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the institution has been charged with testing the substances used in Salisbury, Amesbury and in Syria.

A spokesperson for the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) told The Independent that authorities "are aware of the case of Russian spies discovered in The Hague and expelled from the same place".

"The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) participated actively in this operation together with its Dutch and British partners," she added. "The FIS has thus contributed to the prevention of illegal actions against a critical [part of] Swiss infrastructure."

Officials at the Speiz Laboratory said it had also been targeted with cyber attacks, including a fake conference invitation that contained malicious software.

The spies, who were allegedly found with espionage equipment that could be used to spy on the laboratory, were sent back to Russia and have not been prosecuted.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrive to begin work at the scene of the nerve agent attack (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)

Speiz became the centre of conspiracy theories spread by Russian state media earlier this year, which falsely claimed precursor agents for BZ rather than novichok were found in the Skripal samples.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov used the claims to turn fire on Britain by accusing it of producing BZ and violating the chemical weapons convention.

Ahmet Üzümcü, the former head of the OPCW, later said a precursor chemical of BZ and a blank sample was sent to all designated laboratories alongside real evidence taken from Salisbury to prove their tests were accurate.

“The BZ samples did not have anything to do with the Salisbury samples,” he added in May. “It was solely for checking the quality of the work.”

Russia has been seeking to discredit the OPCW’s verification of chemical weapons used in Salisbury and Syria, where it is supporting Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The Kremlin has used its power of veto at the UN Security Council to block any resolutions against the Syrian government over the atrocities, while the Russian Embassy in London has claimed the OPCW “lacks transparency”.

Tensions with Britain have risen yet again after the government identified the two men accused of launching the Salisbury novichok attack as Russian spies from the GRU military intelligence agency.

On Friday, the Kremlin spokesman suggested that it would not allow British access to the suspects.

"We don't organise interviews with citizens of Russia," Dmitry Peskov said: “There are mechanisms to provide legal assistance...if the British decide to make application, we will respond strictly according to law.”

Police release images of suspects in connection with Salisbury attack

19 show all Police release images of suspects in connection with Salisbury attack

1/19 CCTV â€" Salisbury train station

The two suspects charged in relation to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal at Salisbury train station at 16:11hrs on 03 March 2018 Metropolitan Police

2/19 Suspects

Suspects Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, Russian nationals, approximately 40 years old, who travelled on a Russian passport. It is likely that they were travelling under aliases and that these are not their real names Metropolitan Police

3/19 Evidence

Bottle and applicator recovered by police from Charlie Rowley’s address in Muggleton Road Metrop olitan Police

4/19 Evidence

A counterfeit perfume box that was discovered by nerve agent victim Charlie Rowley, who later gave it, and the bottle inside, to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess Metropolitan Police/AFP/Getty

5/19

Rowley has previously said he felt lucky to be alive after giving a perfume bottle that contained the nerve agent Novichok to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, who later died Metropolitan Police/AFP/Getty

6/19 Suspeccts

The CPS has issued European Arrest Warrants for the extradition of 'Boshirov' and 'Petrov' in connection with the Novichok poisoning attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March Metropolitan Police/PA

7/19 CCTV â€" ‘Boshirov' at Gatwick airport

Movements in detail - At 3pm on Friday, 2 March, the suspects arrived at Gatwick airport, having flown from Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2588 Metropolitan Police

8/19 CCTV â€" ‘Petrov’ at Gatwick airport

From the airport it is believed that they travelled by train into London, arriving at Victoria station at approximately 5.40pm Metropolitan Police

9/19 CCTV â€" Salisbury train station, 11:48hrs on 4 March 2018

They then travelled on London public transport to Waterloo station and were in the area between approximately 6pm and 7pm. They travelled to the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, East London, where they stayed on Friday, 2 March, and Saturday, 3 March. On Saturday, 3 March, they left the hotel and took the underground to Waterloo station, arriving at approximately 11.45am, where they caught a train to Salisbury, arriving at approximately 2.25pm Metropolitan Police

10/19 City Stay Hotel in Bow Road

Police officers stand outside the City Stay Hotel in Bow where on Sunday, 4 March, 'Boshirov' and 'Petrov' made the same journey from the hotel as they did the previous day, again using the underground from Bow to Waterloo station at approximately 8.05am, before continuing their journey by train to Salisbury Getty

11/19 CCTV â€" Wilton Road, Salisbury, 11:58hrs on 4 March 2018

CCTV shows them in the vicinity of Mr Skripal’s house and we believe that they contaminated the front door with Novichok Metropolitan Police

12/19 CCTV â€" Fisherton Road

CCTV image of both suspects on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:05hrs on 4 March, 2018 Metropolitan Police

13/19 CCTV â€" Salisbury train station, 13:50hrs on 4 March 2018

They left Salisbury and returned to Waterloo Station, arriving at approximately 4.45pm and boarded the London Underground at approximately 6.30pm to London Heathrow Airport Metropolitan Police

14/19 CCTV â€" Heathrow airport security, 19:28hrs on 4 March 2018

From Heathrow Airport, they returned to Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2585, departing at 10.30pm Metropolitan Police/PA

15/19 Scene investigations

The police investigation was carried out over 6 months. Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on March 4 in a critical condition on a bench outside the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury AFP/Getty

16/19 Victims

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, right, and his daughter Yulia Rex

17/19 Victims

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who rushed to the aid of the Skripals was also taken to hospital in a serious condition after falling ill when attempting to help them PA

18/19 Victims

Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother of three, died after falling ill when partner Charlie Rowley gave her a perfume bottle that contained the nerve agent Novichok Facebook/Dawn Sturgess/Charles Rowley/AFP/Getty

19/19 Scene investigations

The home of Charlie Rowley in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, where he and Dawn Sturgess were exposed to the deadly nerve agent Novichok PA

1/19 CCTV â€" Salisbury train station

The two suspects charged in relation to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal at Sal isbury train station at 16:11hrs on 03 March 2018 Metropolitan Police

2/19 Suspects

Suspects Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, Russian nationals, approximately 40 years old, who travelled on a Russian passport. It is likely that they were travelling under aliases and that these are not their real names Metropolitan Police

3/19 Evidence

Bottle and applicator recovered by police from Charlie Rowley’s address in Muggleton Road Metropolitan Police

4/19 Evidence A counterfeit perfume box that was discovered by nerve agent victim Charlie Rowley, who later gave it, and the bottle inside, to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess Metropolitan Police/AFP/Getty

5/19

Rowley has previously said he felt lucky to be alive after giving a perfume bottle that contained the nerve agent Novichok to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, who later died Metropolitan Police/AFP/Getty

6/19 Suspeccts

The CPS has issued European Arrest Warrants for the extradition of 'Boshirov' and 'Petrov' in connection with the Novichok poisoning attack o n Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March Metropolitan Police/PA

7/19 CCTV â€" ‘Boshirov' at Gatwick airport

Movements in detail - At 3pm on Friday, 2 March, the suspects arrived at Gatwick airport, having flown from Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2588 Metropolitan Police

8/19 CCTV â€" ‘Petrov’ at Gatwick airport

From the airport it is believed that they travelled by train into London, arriving at Victoria station at approximately 5.40pm Metropolitan Police

9/19 CCTV â€" Salisbury train station, 11:48hrs on 4 March 2018

They then travelled on London public transport to Waterloo station and were in the area between approximately 6pm and 7pm. They travelled to the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, East London, where they stayed on Friday, 2 March, and Saturday, 3 March. On Saturday, 3 March, they left the hotel and took the underground to Waterloo station, arriving at approximately 11.45am, where they caught a train to Salisbury, arriving at approximately 2.25pm Metropolitan Police

10/19 City Stay Hotel in Bow Road

Police officers stand outside the City Stay Hotel in Bow where on Sunday, 4 March, 'Boshirov' and 'Petrov' made the same journey from the hotel as they did the previous day, again using the underground from Bow to Waterloo station at approximately 8.05am, before continuing their journey by train to Salisbury Getty

11/19 CCTV â€" Wilton Road, Salisbury, 11:58hrs on 4 March 2018

CCTV shows them in the vicinity of Mr Skripal’s house and we believe that they contaminated the front door with Novichok Metropolitan Police

12/19 CCTV â€" Fisherton Road

CCTV image of both suspects on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:05hrs on 4 March, 2018 Metropolitan Police

13/19 CCTV â€" Salisbury train station, 13:50hrs on 4 March 2018

They left Salisbury and returned to Waterloo Station, arriving at approximately 4.45pm and boarded the London Underground at approximately 6.30pm to London Heathrow Airport Metropolitan Police

14/19 CCTV â€" Heathrow airport security, 19:28hrs on 4 March 2018

From Heathrow Airport, they returned to Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2585, departing at 10.30pm Metropolitan Police/PA

15/19 Scene investigations

The police investigation was carried out over 6 months. Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found on March 4 in a critical condition on a bench outside the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury AFP/Getty

16/19 Victims

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, right, and his daughter Yulia Rex

17/19 Victims

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who rushed to the aid of the Skripals was also taken to hospital in a serious condition after falling ill when attempting to help them PA

18/19 Victims

Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old mother of three, died after falling ill when partner Charlie Rowley gave her a perfume bottle that contained the nerve agent Novichok Facebook/Dawn Sturgess/Charles Rowley/AFP/Getty

19/19 Scene investigations

The home of Charlie Rowley in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, where he and Dawn Sturgess were exposed to the deadly nerve agent Novichok PA

Police released images of the men last week and said they arrived in Britain two days before the poisoning on business visas and genuine Russian passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Two men claiming to be the suspects appeared on the state-funded RT television network on Thursday after Vladimir Putin publically called on them to give an interview.

They claimed the suspected aliases were their real names and said they visited Salisbury two days in a row to see its “famous” cathedral â€" even though CCTV showed them walking in the opposite direction towards Mr Skripal’s house on both days.

The men explained their extensive travel history around Europe, which is now the subject of close scrutiny, by claiming to be businessmen selling sport nutrition supplements.

The pair also denied they were carrying novichok, or were possession of a specially adapted Nina Ricci perfume bottle UK police say was used to administer the poison.

Ben Wallace told the House of Commons they smuggled the novichok into Gatwick Airport using the counterfeit bottle, which was â €œrecklessly” discarded after being used to smear the nerve agent on Mr Skripal's front door and later poisoned Charlie Rowley and killed his partner Dawn Sturgess.

A Downing Street spokesman dismissed the interview as “lies and blatant fabrications”, which were an “insult to the public’s intelligence”.

“More importantly, they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack,” he added. “Sadly, it is what we have come to expect. An illegal chemical weapon has been used on the streets of this country.

”We have seen four people left seriously ill in hospital and an innocent woman has died. Russia has responded with contempt.“

Sajid Javid has vowed that Britain and its allies will catch the pair if they ever leave Russia again using European Arrest Warrants and Interpol red notices, but admitted the scenario is unlikely.

“If they ever step out of the Russian Federation, Britain and its allies will get them and we will bring them to prosecution,” the home secretary s aid on Saturday, claiming the GRU was “getting its instruction directly from the highest level of the Russian government”.

Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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