Russian intelligence attempted to hack the email of poisoning target Yulia Skripal years ago and had been practicing nerve agent assassinations, according to Britain.
The United Kingdom has blamed Moscow for the attack on 33-year-old Skripal and her father Sergei, a 66-year-old former officer for Russia who lived in Britain after a treason conviction in his homeland.
Russia has repeatedly questioned the assertion that it is behind the use of a nerve agent at the elder Skirpal’s Salisbury, UK, home last month, confirmed Thursday by international investigators as a Novichok variety.
The report from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did not include a statement about where the poison was manufactured.
Poisoning victim Yulia Skripal released from hospital.
Much of Britain’s basis for blaming Russia has been secret, though a letter from its national security adviser, Mark Sedwill, to the NATO alliance on Friday unveiled new details.
Sedwill said Russia, despite being part of the international chemical weapons convention, had been producing a small stockpile of Novichoks and tested ways of using nerve agents in the 2000s “including by application to door handles.”
The letter also delved into why Russian intelligence may want to target Skripal, who was moved to Britain in exchanged for Kremlin spies caught in the U.S.
It said specialists at Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, also accused of hacking Democratic emails released during the 2016 U.S. election, targeted the email of Yulia Skripal at least as far back as 2013.
Sergei Skripal’s pets died in the wake of nerve agent attack
Sedwill did not include if the hack attack was successful.
Both Skripals are recovering and expected to survive, with the daughter taken to a secure location after a release from the hospital this week.
It is not clear where she and her father will go in the future, though she has publicly denied offers of consular assistance from Russia, where she lived before the attack during a visit.
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