Former Russian spy exposed to unknown substance


A man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s were found unconscious on a shopping center bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire police said Monday night. The pair knew each other but their identities have not been confirmed by the UK Home Office, Wiltshire Police or Salisbury Hospital.

A source familiar with the investigation identified one of the two people as Sergei Skripal, who was granted refuge in the UK following a “spy swap” between the US and Russia in 2010.

The two are being being treated at Salisbury District Hospital’s intensive care unit, where their condition remains critical.

Wiltshire police temporary assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said police are keeping an open mind regarding the cause of injuries.

Holden said the incident is not being treated as a terrorism incident and urged people not to speculate. Police do not believe that there is any risk to the wider public, he added. Police are working with partners to prioritize the couple’s diagnosis.
Police inside a Zizzi restaurant in Castle Street, Salisbury.

Wiltshire police said that Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury city center had been closed as the investigation continues.

In a statement, it added that though there was no known risk to the public’s health people who feel ill should contact emergency services.

Former spy

Skripal arrived in the UK as part of a spy swap conducted by the United States and Russia when the two countries exchanged agents on chartered planes at an airport in Vienna, Austria. He was one of four Russians President Dmitry Medvedev pardoned for contacting Western intelligence agencies.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported in 2006 that Skripal was a Russian military intelligence colonel convicted to 13 years imprisonment for spying for the UK.

It quoted Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying he 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 while serving as an intelligence officer during the 1990s and that 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 “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 that Skripal had shared information about dozens of his former colleagues operating in Europe undercover, in particular, their secret meeting venues, addresses and passwords. They said Skripal was arrested in December 2004 on treason charges.

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.

CNN’s Max Foster contributed to this report.

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