Johnson Calls On Russia to Hand Over Suspects in Novichok Attack
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Russia to give up three men wanted for their part in the nerve agent attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil in 2018.
U.K. counter-terrorism earlier on Tuesday charged a third suspect in relation to the attack saying there’s sufficient evidence to charge Sergey Fedotov -- who police said is really Denis Sergeev, a member of Russia’s GRU military intelligence -- on conspiracy and attempted murder.
The U.K. has already demanded the extradition of two other suspects linked to Russia’s GRU who it alleges tried to murder Skripal by spraying the weapons-grade nerve agent “Novichok” on the door handle of his home. The Czech Republic has since blamed the same Russian agents for a deadly blast at an ammunitions depot in 2014. The U.K. and Russia don’t have an extradition agreement.
“I should point out to people in Russia, who’ve been behind this that Russia has already paid a heavy price,” over diplomatic expulsions, Johnson said on Sky News. “An innocent member of the British public, died in that event, we want to see those suspects handed over.”
Skripal and his daughter both survived, but another woman later died after coming into contact with the nerve agent. It was the first use of chemical weapons in Europe since World War II, and triggered a diplomatic showdown when the U.K. pointed the finger of blame at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia, which has always denied its involvement in the attack, condemned the latest move, accusing the U.K. of waging a smear campaign against it.
“The U.K. leadership continues to use the Skripal case as an instrument of pressure on our country, whipping up anti-Russian sentiment in British society,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow.
Separately, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Russia was responsible for the London killing of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006, backing the conclusion of a U.K. inquiry.
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