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Police identify Russian Novichok spies using facial recognition technology

British police identified two Novichok attackers who poisoned ex-spook Sergei Skripal using facial recognition technology, reports claim, the Sun reported on Thursday.

Cops say two Russians were involved in the attempted murder of the former double agent and daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

The pair are not known spies or assassins but are believed to be part of Putin's feared GRU military intelligence service, US media reports.

Investigators combing through hours of CCTV footage discovered the "fresh identities" by cross-checking them with passenger lists of the commercial flight used to flee Britain.

A source said facial recognition technology was used to identify the suspects, who were said to be traveling on fake names.

The media outlet claimed the pair's departure was discussed in a coded Russian message to Moscow - intercepted by a British base in Cyprus.

Cops have remained tight-lipped over the developments, but a source told the Press Association: “Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time.

"They are sure they are Russian.”

The Sun revealed earlier this month that Scotland Yard believes a two-man hit team carried out the attack on the Skripals on behalf of the Kremlin.

The pair are thought to have left the UK for Russia the next morning and are thought to be under the protection of President Vladimir Putin.

The developments comes as an inquest opened today for 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, who died after coming into contact with Novichok from the same batch used on the Skirpals.

Dawn's partner Charlie Rowley, 45, was left fighting for his life after also being contaminated by the chemical weapon.


It is now believed Dawn was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of nerve agent the Skripals came into contact with as cops probe a theory the poison was in a discarded perfume bottle.

A fingertip search of Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury was carried out yesterday as cordons remain in place in the Wiltshire town.

Sources told The Sun investigators were determined to bring a criminal case against those responsible.

One said: "The ultimate aim has always been to bring them to justice. Obviously if they're no longer in the UK, it makes it much more challenging."

Ex-Russian double agent Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in a "catatonic state" after they were exposed to the Russian nerve agent, Novichok, on March 5.

The Skripals spent weeks in hospital but survived the attack thanks to British doctors.

It was also previously reported the Skripals were under surveillance by Russian authorities in the months leading up to the attack.


Sergei is said to have been placed under surveillance by the Russian state and authorities are investigating whether he was physically followed around the streets of Salisbury in the lead-up to the poisoning.

The bombshell comes just days after Russian leader Vladimir Putin smirked at the suggestion Russia was involved in attacks on British soil.

And previously this week, it was claimed cops were close to identifying the Russian spooks who carried out the Novichok attack on the Skripals from "grainy CCTV 

Novichok - the Russian for newcomer or newbie - is the name for a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

They are said to be the deadliest nerve agents ever created and reported to be five times more potent than the notorious VX gas.

Those affected usually die from total heart failure or suffocation as copious fluid secretions fill their lungs.

Theresa May pointed the finger at Vladimir Putin's Russia for poisoning ex-spy Skripal after he and his daughter were taken seriously ill in Salisbury in early March 2018.

The PM said it was "highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei Skripal" using Novichok, which Putin has repeatedly denied.

Last Modified: Thursday، 19 July 2018 06:36 PM