Ex-Russian spy critically ill after exposure to substance in UK

Ex-Russian spy critically ill after exposure to substance in UK

"The two people - a man aged in his 60s, and a woman aged in her 30s - were found unconscious on a bench in The Maltings in Salisbury", Wiltshire police said on Monday, adding that the injured are known to each other.

British media have identified the man as Sergei Skripal, who was given refuge in Britain after a spy swap between the United States and Russian Federation in 2010.

Both are critically ill in intensive care.

There has been speculation that the incident could be connected to the collapse of two people in Salisbury on Sunday, but this was not confirmed by Salisbury NHS foundation trust or the emergency services.

Skripal, who is a retired Russian military intelligence colonel, was jailed for 13 years in 2006 for spying for Britain.

A specialist chemical response unit removed the unknown substance from the area, wrapping it in several protective layers.

Mr Holden said a risk to the wider public does not "currently" exist.

She said: "On the bench there was a couple, an older guy and a younger girl. She was sort of leant in on him, it looked like she had passed out maybe", she said. "He was doing some unusual hand movements, looking up to the sky", witness Freya Church told the BBC.

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"They looked so out of it that I thought even if I did step in I wasn't sure how I could help, so I just left them".

Freya Church told the BBC it looked like the two people had taken "something quite strong".

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing.

His purported involvement in Sunday's incident has echoes of Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-Russian spy who died in 2006 after being poisoned with radioactivity in London.

It took some time for British doctors to discern the cause of Litvinenko's illness.

He was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in 2010 in exchange for 10 United States spies as part of a swap.

Russian Federation said Col Skripal had been paid $100,000 for the information, which he had been supplying from the 1990s. One of the victims is a former Russian spy, Britain's national broadcaster said.

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