Two Britains fell ill four days ago after an exposure to the nerve agent Novichok, the same agent that almost killed Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
From The New York Times:
Before they collapsed, the two had spent time in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, which is a short walk from where the former spy and his daughter lost consciousness. Officials cordoned off the area on Wednesday, along with several other places, including a trash bin outside the John Baker House, an assisted-living center in Salisbury.
A friend who was with Mr. Rowley and Ms. Sturgess on Saturday said that their condition rapidly deteriorated, with symptoms that included pinpoint pupils, seizures, frothing at the mouth and hallucinations.
The police said on Wednesday that they did not know whether there was a link between the new case and the poisoning of the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia. Britain has accused the Russian government of being behind the earlier attack, a claim Moscow denies.
“The Counter Terrorism Policing Network is now leading the investigation into this incident,” Neil Basu, an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who oversees counterterrorism operations, announced on Wednesday evening. About 100 detectives are working on the case, along with members of the local Wiltshire Police.
At first, authorities thought the symptoms had to do with heroin or cocaine since “Rowley is a registered heroin addict.” But that changed when the two fell into a coma and they discovered Rowley and Sturgess “spent several hours in the vicinity close to where the Skripals were poisoned.”
Rowley and Sturgess could be collateral damage. It’s possible they became exposed to Novichok “after it had been discarded by the would-be assassins targeting” Skripal and his daughter.
Russia has denied responsibility for the attack (anyone shocked?) according to The Washington Examiner:
“This is very disturbing news,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Tass, Russia’s state-owned news agency. “[W]e have no information on what substances were actually used and how they were used, because here it is very difficult to rely on any media reports,” he added.
UK Security Minister Ben Wallace has encouraged Russia to help with this attack:
“The Russian state could put this wrong right,” Wallace said. “They could tell us what happened, what they did and fill in some of the significant gaps we are trying to pursue. We have said they can come and tell us what happened. I’m waiting for the phone call from the Russian state. The offer is there.”
Peskov said Russia has denied any involvement in the first incident, and said Russia offered to help UK officials then, but never heard a reply to that offer.
“TOf [sic] course, it triggers profound concern in connection with the similar incidents in the UK,” Peskov said in response to reports of a second attack. “We wish them a speedy recovery.”
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