UK police say they have found the source of the nerve agent that allegedly poisoned two people in Amesbury, killing one. They claim the source appears to be a small bottle discovered in one of the victim’s homes.
The bottle was apparently found in Charlie Rowley’s house in Amesbury on Wednesday. “Scientists have now confirmed to us that the substance contained within the bottle is Novichok,” a Friday statement by police said.
Investigators say they’ve not yet determined how a bottle of supposedly weapons-grade chemicals ended up in Rowley’s home, or if there are more like it around. Police cordons will remain in place around the scene “for some considerable time.”
Rowley, 45, and his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, 44, took ill on June 30, with what British police later said was nerve agent poisoning caused by Novichok, citing researchers at the nearby Porton Down chemical lab. Both were admitted to the Salisbury hospital in critical condition.
Sturgess died a week later, while Rowley’s condition improved. By Wednesday this week he was no longer critical, medics said.
Novichok is the same nerve agent that British authorities claim was used in the March poisoning of former Russian-UK double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Russia is being blamed for that incident, although the investigation is ongoing and no conclusive evidence has been produced in over four months. Both Skripals survived the alleged poisoning and left hospital for undisclosed locations.
Police and counter-terrorism investigators looking into the Amesbury incident say they haven’t yet determined if there’s a link to the Skripals’ case. The UK Defense Secretary, though, was among the people who didn’t hesitate to make the leap.
“The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,”Gavin Williamson, of the ‘Russia should go away and shut up’ fame, told the Commons following Sturgess’ death. Other officials and establishment journalists rushed to label the Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘murderer’.
Russia has repeatedly asked to be given access to investigation materials in the Skripals’ case so that it could assist the probe on the grounds that Yulia Skripal retained her Russian citizenship, but the requests were ignored. Instead, saying Moscow was “highly likely” to blame, the UK and its allies initiated a mass expulsion of Russian diplomats, resulting in more than 100 Russian embassy and consulate workers getting sent home from over a dozen countries.