The Latest: Interview: Spy would be dead, if Russia wanted
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the U.K. investigation into a Russian ex-spy’s poisoning (all times local):
A former Moscow neighbor of the ex-spy who was poisoned in England says if the Russian government had wanted Sergei Skripal dead, he would have been killed in Russia a long time ago.
Nikolai Tsiplakov told The Associated Press in an interview on Sunday that he lived in the same building as Skripal’s family before the retired military intelligence officer was imprisoned for spying for Britain.
Tsiplakov noted there is no proof of Russian involvement in exposing Skripal and his adult daughter to what British authorities say was a nerve agent.
He said: “You need to understand, he’s a former spy and he’s a traitor. If they wanted him dead, they would have killed him in Russia a long time ago.”
Skripal was freed in 2010 as part of spy swap in which Russians were traded from the West.
Tsiplakov added: “If you need to get rid of a person, when the material is done with and unnecessary, you can throw it away. They can disappear.”
Tsiplakov says he was especially close to Skripal’s son, Alexander, who died last year at the age of 43.
British health officials say the risk to public health after the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy remains low.
Dr. Jenny Harries of Public Health England said Sunday there has been some limited contamination of a restaurant and pub in Salisbury following the nerve agent attack.
She says people who were in the restaurant and pub on March 4 and March 5 should take “simple” precautions by washing their clothes and taking other measures.
Harries says the announcement of these precautions doesn’t mean the risk level to the public has been raised.
Hospital officials in Salisbury also said there is no evidence of a wider risk beyond the three people hospitalized since the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
British health authorities have urged people to wash their clothing and possessions as a precaution if they visited a restaurant and pub in the English city of Salisbury, where a Russian ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent.
Public Health England has issued advice for anyone who went to either the Zizzi restaurant or The Mill pub at certain hours of March 4 and 5. Ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia reportedly ate at Zizzi before falling critically ill.
The statement says that “while there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in either of these locations, it is possible, but unlikely, that any of the substance which has come into contact with clothing or belongings could still be present in minute amounts and therefore contaminate your skin. Over time, repeated skin contact with contaminated items may pose a small risk to health.”
British media says traces of the nerve agent used to attack a Russian ex-spy and his daughter have been found in Salisbury where the two were poisoned.
BBC and Sky News said Sunday that traces have been detected. BBC said its sources say traces were found at the Zizzi restaurant where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia reportedly ate before falling critically ill. Sky says traces were found in several locations.
U.K. officials haven’t publicly confirmed that any trace of the nerve agent has been found and say the risk to the public remains low. Officials haven’t said what type of nerve agent was used.
A large-scale police investigation is underway in Salisbury as forensics experts wearing protective gear search for clues.