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UK Police Say Identified Hundreds of Witnesses in Russian ex-Spy Poisoning Case

© REUTERS / Peter NichollsPolice officers stand guard outside the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018
Police officers stand guard outside the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018 - Sputnik International
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LONDON (Sputnik) - The UK counterterrorism police identified more than 240 witnesses and over 200 pieces of evidence as part of investigation into the poisoning of Russian former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Saturday.

On Monday, the UK police said that a man and a woman were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury. Both of them were "in a critical condition" and are being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance. It was later confirmed by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that the man was Skripal, who was granted asylum in the United Kingdom after a US-Russia spy exchange, while the woman was his daughter, Yulia.

"Counterterrorism police, investigating the Salisbury suspected nerve agent attack, have identified over 240 witnesses and are looking at more than 200 pieces of evidence," Rudd said.

The secretary pointed out that police were carrying out a massive and substantial investigation.

Police cordon off the area near the Maltings in Salisbury, England, where British media reported Monday, March 5, 2018 that a former Russian spy was in critical condition after coming into contact with an unknown substance on Sunday. British media identified him as Sergei Skripal, 66, who was convicted in Russia on charges of spying for Britain and sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in prison. Skripal was freed in 2010 as part of a U.S.-Russian spy swap. - Sputnik International
Analyst Sheds Some Light on Mysterious Russian Ex-Spy Poisoning Story
"This is a serious, substantial investigation. We need to give the police and the investigators the space to get on with that… I want to stress that they are proceeding with speed and professionalism. We are putting in enormous resources to ensure that they have all the support that they need to do that," Rudd added.

In 2006, Skripal was sentenced in Russia to 13 years in prison for cooperating with the UK Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and transferring names of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe. In 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree pardoning Skripal, with the latter then moving to the United Kingdom.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin had no information on what could have caused the incident and noted that Moscow was open for cooperation.

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