British police believe they have identified the suspects who carried out the Novichok nerve agent attack on a former Moscow double agent and his daughter and that they are Russian, the Press Association news agency reported yesterday.
“Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time,” a source with knowledge of the investigation told PA.
“They (investigators) are sure they (suspects) are Russian,” the source added. The pair, identified using facial recognition technology, left Britain following the March 4 attack, likely on a commercial flight, according to CNN.
Britain previously confirmed that border officials searched an incoming Aeroflot plane at London’s Heathrow Airport on March 31 in what it called “routine” checks for criminal activity.
Russia at the time called it an act of “blatant provocation”.
Citing a source with knowledge of the investigation, CNN said the suspects’ departure was “revealed in a coded Russian message to Moscow sent after the attack, which was intercepted by a British base in Cyprus”.
Government departments and Scotland Yard police headquarters refused to comment on the reports when contacted by AFP. Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in the southwestern English city of Salisbury after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.
Both have since recovered.
Britain blamed Russia for the poisoning of Skripal, a former military intelligence colonel who was jailed for betraying Russian agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service. He left Russia for Britain in a 2010 spy swap. Russia has strongly denied involvement in the Skripal attack, sparking a row that has led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between Britain and its allies and Moscow. Russia’s ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko told the BBC yesterday he had heard nothing official from the government.