Britain charges 2 Russians over Novichok poisoning

Metropolitan PoliceA surveillance image shows both suspects at Salisbury train station at 4:11

Police and prosecutors said there is sufficient evidence to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with conspiring to murder Sergei Skripal and attempting to murder the ex-Russian spy, his daughter Yulia and Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

"This was not a rogue operation", Prime Minister Theresa May said of the two suspects believed to be part of the GRU, Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate.

Britain secured the support of the leaders of United States, France, Germany, and Canada, who issued a joint statement on September 6 in which they agreed with the British assessment that Russia's government "almost certainly" approved the poisoning.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme Britain is "100% sure" the two Russians named by the Crown Prosecution Service carried out the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury, Wilts. Instead, it has taken out a European arrest warrant, which means that if either man travels to a country where a European arrest warrant is valid, they will be arrested and face extradition on these charges.

A joint statement by the leaders of France, Germany, the USA and Canada on Thursday said they had "full confidence in the British assessment" as they chose to "reiterate our outrage" over the incident.

"It is likely that they were travelling under aliases and that these are not their real names", he said.

Police identified Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the men who allegedly tried to kill Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with Novichok in March. They spent weeks hospitalised in critical condition and are now recovering in a secret location for their own protection. Her boyfriend Charlie Rowley also became seriously ill during that incident, and police officer Nicholas Bailey was hospitalised by exposure to the Skripals at the time of the first incident.

Britain has blamed Russian Federation for the poisonings and identified the poison as Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Wednesday that Moscow has no knowledge of the two suspects, saying their names and photos "say nothing to us".

Britain has said it is not going to seek the men's extradition because Russian law does not allow for the extradition of its nationals to be tried overseas.

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She is expected to speak to other leaders over the next few days as she seeks to forge an worldwide alliance for further action against Russian Federation.

While police said they were certain the two incidents were firmly linked, that investigation is almost four months behind the one into the Skripals.

Her partner Charlie Rowley had found a perfume bottle, falsely labelled as "Premier Jour" by Nina Ricci, which police said contained a "significant amount of Novichok".

Mr Basu would not say whether police believe the suspects worked for Russian security services but, he said, "this was a sophisticated attack across borders".

Traces of Novichok, below levels which would cause public health concern, were later found in their room.

The suspects made two trips to Salisbury before flying back to Moscow from Heathrow Airport on the evening of March 4, hours after the Skripals were poisoned, police said.

United Kingdom police now believe the deadly nerve agent used in the attempted murder of a former Russian double agent and his daughter was brought into the country in a counterfeit perfume bottle with a specially made poison applicator.

He was hospitalised and his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to the contents.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Tuesday that Rowley and Sturgess were also exposed to Novichok.

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