Russia spied on Skripal and daughter for at least 5 years: UK

Yulia Skripal was poisoned with a nerve agent in England last month

Russia's intelligence agencies have been spying on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia for at least five years, Britain's National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill has told the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, according to a Press Assocation tweet on Friday.

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

Regarding the Skripals themselves, Sedwill claims that email accounts belonging to Yulia Skripal were targeted by Russian intelligence agents in 2013, "indicating Russian intelligence service interest in the Skripals".

The Soviet Union developed fourth-generation nerve agents known as Novichoks in the 1980s, Sedwill said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on April 12 confirmed Britain's findings about the nerve agent used in the attack after testing samples from Salisbury.

Russia, he said, repeating a claim the Kremlin has asserted throughout the Skripal affair, eliminated all of its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2017, and as for Novichok, "We did not produce it and didn't store it".

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

Sedwill also said that Russian Federation has tested means of delivering chemical agents "including by application to door handles", pointing out that the highest concentration of the chemical found after the attack was on Skripal's front door handle.

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

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Sir Mark said Russian Federation had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that it was "highly likely" some defectors may be regarded as "legitimate targets".

A program set up in Russian Federation in the 2000s trained personnel from special units in the use of chemical warfare agents, he said, including investigating how nerve agents could be administered through door handles.

Russian Federation has denied all involvement.

Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom said the claim that Russian intelligence had been interested in the Skripals since at least 2013 came as a "big surprise".

He said that Russian Federation had continued to produce and stockpile small quantities of Novichoks within the last decade.

Mr. Sedwill's letter also says that Britain has evidence that Russian security services have been monitoring the Skripal family.

"We didn't produce Novichok, we didn't store this Novichok, so-called under the Western classification, was never in our military forces". "We didn't hear any signs, any applications from the British side".

He also questioned the authenticity of a statement issued by Ms Skripal through the Metropolitan Police saying she did not want to meet Russian officials. Her father remains in the hospital but British health officials say he is improving.

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