The Russian spy poisoned along with his daughter was close to a consultant for British ex-official Christopher Steele’s company, according to a report.
Sergei Skripal, a 66-year-old former colonel for Russia intelligence, was found on Sunday collapsed along with his 33-year-old Yulia on a bench in Salisbury.
Police said that the pair, and a police officer who responded to the scene, were suffering the effects of a deadly nerve agent, and that they had been the targets of a poisoning.
Similarities to the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died in a 2006 poisoning with polonium that an inquiry said was “probably” ordered by Vladimir Putin, have sparked questions about an assassination attempt.
Russian spy was poisoned with nerve agent, officials say
British officials have issued warnings to Russia, though police have not pinpointed any motive in the case.
Skripal was convicted in Moscow in 2006 of passing secrets to British intelligence about Russian spies in Europe, and moved to the UK after being released in a 2010 “spy swap.”
But a report in The Daily Telegraph said that he appeared to have maintained at least one tie to the intelligence world, and had become close to a consultant who had worked for Orbis Business Intelligence.
Orbis Business Intelligence, headed by former MI6 official Christopher Steele, has become a focus of the U.S. investigation into alleged Russian election meddling in the 2016 election, and produced a “dossier” on President Trump that alleged he was compromised by the Kremlin.
Critically ill ex-Russian spy’s family died in different ways
Steele formerly worked as a spy in Russia, and is believed to have brought together his documents, slammed as phony by Trump and Republicans, from sources inside the country.
Though not included in the “dossier” published by Buzzfeed last year, another Steele memo reported by the New Yorker on Monday cited a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry, where Skripal reportedly used to work, as saying that Russia had interfered in the possibility of Mitt Romney becoming Trump’s Secretary of State.
The Telegraph did not identify the consultant, but said that the person was based in Salisbury and had listed work for Orbis on a LinkedIn page.
Steele was contracted by research firm Fusion GPS for Trump info but contacted the FBI himself after learning of allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.
It was not immediately clear if Skripal was still in contacted with British authorities officially or through Steele.
Litvinenko had been a paid consultant for MI6 before his death.
Few details are known about the poison used in the Skripal case, though British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Thursday morning that it was “very rare.”
She also told Sky News that one of the officers who first responded to the scene and was later hospitalized is “awake and engaging and was talking to people.”
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