An ex-Russian spy and his daughter are in critical but stable condition, officers said at a press conference Sunday, after they were allegedly poisoned by a nerve agent.
Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33 -year-old daughter Yulia were found March 4 unconscious on a bench in a shopping mall in Salisbury, about 90 miles west of London.
Officials are still investigating how the nerve agent was administered and lawmakers are probing a possible Kremlin link to the incident.
While authorities have not yet decided the Kremlin link, Keir Giles, the director of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Cambridge, England, told the Associated Press that he “would be surprised if this were not connected back to Russia in some direct way.
Additionally, police believe that the two were specifically targeted, the Associated Press reported.
“I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on U.K. clay will go either unsanctioned or unpunished, ” U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said.
Hundreds of people have been told to wash their possessions as a precaution after tracings of the nerve agent were found in a eatery where the two were poisoned, the chief medical officer for England disclosed Sunday.
Sally Davies said that up to 500 people who have visited saloons and eateries in the city of Salisbury should take action after Skripal and his daughter Yulia were sickened, Sky News reported.
The sites include a bench in the Maltings shopping center where the pair were found unconscious, Skripal’s home, the graveyard where his wife and son are interred, and the Bishop’s Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant where the pair visited in the hours before they fell ill, law enforcement sources told Sky News.
U.K. officials haven’t said what type of nerve agent was used and say the risk to the public remained low.
“However, some people are concerned long-term exposure to these substances may over weeks, and especially months, give rise to health problems, ” Davies said on Sunday.
In light of the incident, here’s what to know about Skripal.
His background as a spy
Skripal served with Russia’s military intelligence, often known by its Russian-language acronym GRU, and retired in 1999. He then ran at the Foreign Ministry until 2003 and later became involved in business.
Skripal was arrested in 2004 in Moscow and later confessed to having been recruited by British intelligence in 1995. He also said at the time that he provided information about GRU agents in Europe, receiving over $100,000 in return.
At the time of Skripal’s trial, the Russian media quoted the FSB domestic security bureau as went on to say that the damage from his activities could be compared to harm inflicted by Oleg Penkovsky, a GRU colonel who snooped for the United States and Britain. Penkovsky was executed in 1963.
In 2006, he was convicted on charges of snooping for Britain and sentenced to 13 years. However, he was later pardoned and released from custody in July 2010 as part of a U.S.-Russian-spy swap, which followed the exposure of a ring of Russian sleeper agents in the United States.
Skripal’s wife and son have both died in recent years. Prior to his wife’s demise, however, she reportedly told police that she feared for her husband’s life, the Daily News reported.
Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and Travis Fedschun contributed to this report, along with the Associated Press.
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