Traces of the deadly nerve agent Novichok used in an attack on a former Russian agent and his daughter in Salisbury have been found in a London hotel, Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs Wednesday in the House of Commons.
In an official statement, May said the British police and intelligence agencies have identified two Russian nationals they believe were responsible for the attack in March which left Sergey and Yulia Skripal fighting for their lives.
Both survived, but the same agent led to the poisoning near Salisbury of friends Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley. Sturgess died as a result of the poisoning.
May said since the Salisbury attack around 250 detectives have trawled through more than 11,000 hours of closed circuit television tapes and taken more than 1,400 statements.
“Working around the clock they have carried out painstaking and methodical work to ascertain exactly which individuals were responsible and the methods they used to carry out this attack,” said May.
May named two Russians and told MPs how after their arrival at London’s Gatwick Airport they traveled by train to London Victoria, then on to Waterloo before going to the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road East London.
“They stayed there on both Friday and Saturday evenings and traces of Novichok were found in their hotel room,” said May.
May said the forensic investigation has produced sufficient evidence for the independent Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to bring charges against two Russian nationals for the murder and attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, possession and use of Novichok and causing grievous bodily harm.
The prime minister named the two suspects as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, adding that London’s Metropolitan Police believe to be aliases.
Police in London issued photographs of the two men the British authorities want to be arrested.
May said the two men visited Salisbury on March 3 for what police are confident was a reconnaissance exercise. They made the same journey the following day before leaving Britain.
Police have released CCTV footage of the two men which clearly places them in the immediate vicinity of the Skripals’ house in Salisbury moments before the attack on the former Russian agent and his daughter.
May told the House of Commons: “Based on a body of intelligence, the government has concluded that the two individuals named by the police and CPS are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU. The GRU is a highly disciplined organization with a well-established chain of command.
“This was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state,” she said.
May said the CPS has obtained a European Arrest Warrant for the two men and will shortly issue an Interpol red notice.
She added: “Should either of these individuals ever again travel outside Russia, we will take every possible step to detain them, to extradite them and to bring them to face justice here in the United Kingdom.”
Russia has been denying any involvement in the event.