Russian Federation sensationally claims Skripals are 'being held prisoner' by the UK

Salisbury spy poisoned row

Russia's intelligence agencies have been spying on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia for at least five years, according to previously classified intelligence over the Salisbury attack that has been made public.

Sedwill also said Russia had a clear motive for attacking Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who had been imprisoned in Russia for spying for Britain, only to be set free in a spy swap.

The comments came in a letter from Sedwill to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the PA said.

Russian ambassador rejects claims made by top British security official in letter to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation head on spy poisoning case.

Sedwill said "credible open-source reporting and intelligence" showed that in the 1980s the Soviet Union developed a family of nerve agents known as Novichoks at a base in Shikhany near Volgograd.

Mark Sedwill also said in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that Russian Federation had previously tested whether door handles could be used to deliver nerve agents. The central element of Britain's case against Russian Federation is the unusual nerve agent used in the attack, which was developed in Soviet laboratories during the last years of the Soviet Union.

Turning to "operational experience", Sedwill said Russian had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination".

"Dating back at least as far as 2013, email accounts belonging to Yulia Skripal were targeted by [Moscow] cyber specialists", Sedwill said.

Alexander Yakovenko, Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, dismissed Sedwill's charges as unfounded and untrue. Britain has blamed Russian Federation for the attack - a charge that Moscow has strongly denied.

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Last week, the chief executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, Britain's premier chemical weapons laboratory, said its scientists could not identify "the precise source" of the chemical, though its purity indicated that it was nearly certainly created by a "state actor".

In the letter, Sedwill said Novichok was found in environmental samples taken at the scene and in biomedical samples from both Skripals and DS Bailey, and that the "highest concentrations were found on the handle of Mr Skripal's front door".

Russian Federation has continued to deny any involvement in the poisoning of the former spy and his daughter, asking for further investigation into what Sir Mark describes as an attack.

Separately, Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, said Moscow would not accept any conclusions about the poisoning unless Russian experts were given access to the investigation.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent worldwide chemical weapons controls", he said.

"Normally, you don't worry about some impurities because they don't get in the way of the major task that you're using the chemical for, which is to poison someone".

Yulia Kripal was released from hospital this week.

"If somebody was spying, why were the British services not complaining about it, because they always complain if something goes wrong in their country or somewhere else", he said during a news conference in London.

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