UK home secretary: 'Too early' to pin blame in spy case
British government security officials held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the poisoning of a Russian who spied for Britain, as police backed by soldiers continued to search the town where he was attacked with a nerve agent.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said after the meeting that it was still "too early" to say with certainty who was behind the poisoning that left former Russian military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in critical condition.
Rudd said the investigation has been painstaking and involved more than 250 counter-terrorism officers. More than 240 pieces of evidence have been collected and 200 witnesses have been identified, she said.
The meeting was similar to the ones convened after extremist attacks and other threats to national security. It covered the latest police and intelligence reports from Salisbury, where the military-supported investigation has turned to the cemetery where the ex-spy's wife and son are buried.
Police are looking for clues to what sickened Skripal, 66, who in 2006 was convicted in Russia of spying for Britain, and his daughter, Yulia, 33. The father and daughter were found unconscious March 4 on a bench in Salisbury, a town 90 miles) southwest of London.
A local restaurant and pub have been searched and remain closed to the public. Anti-contamination measures have been taken at places the father and daughter visited before they fell ill. Police in hazardous material gear also are collecting evidence from Skripal's house, as well as at the grave sites of Skripal's son and wife.
Skripal had his sentence cut short and was released from prison in 2010 as part of a spy swap. The former intelligence agent lived out of the public eye in Salisbury