Tags: Russia | spy | england | critically ill | poisoning

Ex-Russian Spy Critically Ill After 'Unknown Substance' Exposure

Ex-Russian Spy Critically Ill After 'Unknown Substance' Exposure
Sergei Skripal speaks to his lawyer from behind bars seen on a screen of a monitor outside a courtroom in Moscow in August 2006. (Misha Japaridze/AP)

By    |   Monday, 05 March 2018 04:35 PM

A man exposed to an "unknown substance" in Salisbury, England, on Sunday was identified as Sergei Skripal, a Russian national convicted of spying for Britain, BBC reports.

Skripal, 66, and a woman were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping area and were taken to a nearby hospital where they were treated. The two are still in critical condition and the hospital and a number of locations in Salsbury were cordoned off in relation to the incident.

The substance has yet to be confirmed by Public Health England, although some reports indicate the pair might have been exposed to the powerful opiate fentanyl, and U.K. police have not determined whether a crime was committed.

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

"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 strange hand movements, looking up to the sky."

Skripal arrived in the UK as part of a high-profile spy swap in 2010, and was one of four Russians exchanged for 10 deep cover sleeper agents planted by Moscow in the U.S., according to the U.K.'s Mirror. He reportedly started work as a double agent in the 1990s, but was convicted of passing the identities of Moscow agents working undercover in Europe to MI6 in 2006, receiving $1000,000 in cash for the information.

He was convicted of "high treason in the form of espionage," later that year and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Some reports have compared the incident to the poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed in November of 2006 after he drank tea laced with polonium 2010 in a London hotel during a meeting with a Russian businessman. An inquiry in 2016 indicated Russian President Vladimir Putin likely approved the assassination.

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Sergei Skripal, 66, a Russian national convicted of spying for Britain, is critically ill after being exposed to an "unknown substance" in Salisbury, England, on Sunday.
spy, england, critically ill, poisoning
Monday, 05 March 2018 04:35 PM
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