Chemical Watchdog Confirms Ex-Spy Poisoned With Nerve Agent

By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA

LONDON (AP) — The international chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday confirmed Britain’s finding that a former spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent, as Russia continues to deny suggestions that it was behind the attack.

The report by investigators at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirms “the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury.”

It says the chemical was “of high purity,” and does not identify its source. The summary does not name Novichok — the name of the nerve agent previously cited by British Prime Minister Theresa May — but said the details of the toxin are in the full classified report.

Britain blames Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. Russia denies any involvement, saying Britain hasn’t provided any evidence for its assertion.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson quickly commented on the OPCW’s report, saying that the results prove Britain’s thesis on the matter.

“This is based on testing in four independent, highly reputable laboratories around the world. All returned the same conclusive results,” he said. “There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible — only Russia has the means, motive and record.”

The findings come after Yulia Skripal on Wednesday rejected Russian Embassy assistance as she recovers at an undisclosed location. Yulia, 33, was released from the hospital earlier this week, but her father is recovering more slowly.

“I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do,” Yulia Skripal said in a statement released by London’s Metropolitan Police. “Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.”

The comment came after Yulia’s cousin Viktoria gave a series of interviews about a telephone conversation between the two, leading the British government to claim that Russia was using Viktoria Skripal as a “pawn” in the dispute between the two sides.

Russia’s Embassy in London questioned the authenticity of Yulia’s statement, saying it was crafted to support Britain’s version of events and increases suspicions that she is being held against her will.

British authorities “must urgently provide tangible evidence that Yulia is alright and not deprived of her freedom,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The text has been composed in a special way so as to support official statements made by British authorities and at the same time to exclude every possibility of Yulia’s contacts with the outer world — consuls, journalists and even relatives,” the embassy said. “The document only strengthens suspicions that we are dealing with a forcible isolation of the Russian citizen.”

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