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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Skripals to be offered new lives in the US

Senior sources have said they will be offered brand new identities to keep them safe

Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may be offered new identities in the USA
Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may be offered new identities in the USA

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are to be offered new identities and a new life in the United States in an effort to protect them from future assassination attempts.

Intelligence officials in MI6 have had discussions with their counterparts in the CIA, a senior Whitehall official told The Sunday Times. “They will be offered new identities”.

The source added that both victims were now conscious and talking some 5 weeks after they were poisoned and left in critical conditions. Added that the pair would soon begin assisting British authorities in their investigation into the poisoning.

An intelligence source told the paper “The obvious place to resettle them is in America, because they’re less likely to be killed there and it’s easier to protect them there under a new identity.

“There’s a preference for them to be resettled in a five-eyes nation because their case would have huge security implications.”

The ‘five eyes’ refers to the intelligence sharing partnership of the UK, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The paper also reported that senior figure in Downing Street were trying to convince UK National Security Advisor, Mark Sedwill to make public more of the intel surrounding the poisoning in an effort to convince sceptics the Russia’s was responsible.

The Foreign Office announced that it had rejected demands from the Russian Embassy in London to provide consular support to the two who remain Russian nationals. It also said it was considering a request from the Russian embassy to meet with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, but labelled the request part of Russia “pursuing a different diversionary tactic.”

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Read more

Poisoned Russian spy no longer in critical condition

Russian embassy calls for meeting with UK foreign secretary

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Yulia Skripal’s cousin Viktoria questioned the government’s decision to deny her a UK visa to visit Sergei and Yulia in Hospital from Moscow. A home Office spokesperson said that Viktoria Skripal’s application "did not comply with the Immigration Rules", but the Russian embassy claimed the rejection was politically motivated.

Viktoria Skripal told Sky TV “The main thing I would like now is to see them personally and be able to tell our grandfather truthfully about his son's and granddaughter's health, but my visa was rejected.”

"The whole world is now talking about an unprecedented political scandal, but real people are at the epicenter of this scandal. This is our family, which really needs to be together now.

But a former Sir Andrew Wood, a former British Ambassador to Moscow said it was an “absurdist" and "cunning" ploy to influence public perception of the case.

"The Russians haven't been helpful in any way and we wouldn't expect them to,” he said.

The revelations came as Boris Johnson accused Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn of being the “Kremlin’s useful idiot”, in question the UK government’s narrative that it was Russia that was responsible for the poisoning last month.

Mr Johnson said Mr Corbyn held “sympathy for any country, any movement, however unappealing, that is hostile to Britain.”

However, a spokesperson for the Labour leader hit back, saying that Mr Johnson had "made a fool of himself and undermined the government” in misrepresenting the views of officials at Porton Down, the laboratory which identified the substance used in the poisoning as Novichok.

Mr Skripal, a former intelligence officer, was arrested by Russian authorities in 2004 and convicted of passing intelligence to the UK. He was subsequently released and handed over to the UK in 2010 as part of a prisoner swap.