The CIA is reportedly in talks with MI6 to give new identities to former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Britain blames Russia for the March 4 poisoning on U.K. soil of the Skripals with what it says was a Soviet-made military-grade nerve agent, a charge the Kremlin furiously denies. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)
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The CIA could give former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, new identities in the United States, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
“The obvious place to resettle them is in America, because they’re less likely to be killed there and it’s easier to protect them there under a new identity,” a source with knowledge of the situation told the Times. The paper also cited sources who said British intelligence service MI6 wanted to relocate the Skripals to one of the other “five eyes” nations: the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, since the case would have "huge security implications." “The five eyes” is an intelligence-sharing alliance of these four nations and the United Kingdom.
While Skripal had been given sanctuary in the United Kingdom after the Russian government discovered that he was handing state secrets over to MI6, he was not living under a false identity and even reportedly bought a house using his real name in 2011.
In response to the Skripal poisoning, and the Russian government's lack of cooperation with the investigation, 28 nations including the U.S. and the U.K. have expelled some Russian diplomats.
What’s the story?
On March 4, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found slumped on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury, England. Investigators later determined that two had been poisoned with Novichok, which had been developed by the Russian government during the Cold War. They apparently came into contact with it on the front door of Sergei Skripal’s home in Salisbury.
On April 5, Yulia had recovered enough to make a statement through London police. She said that her “strength is growing daily,” and thanked hospital staff and the people of Salisbury for all their help. Since then, her father has also regained consciousness, but his condition is reportedly “further behind” Yulia’s.
British authorities said that they hope the Skripals “can both assist us with what happened soon,” but that they would most likely “require ongoing medical care.”
While all of this has been going on, a niece of Sergei Skripal has been trying to gain access to the Skripals in the hospital. So far, the British authorities have refused to allow her to see them.
This cousin, Viktoria Skripal, released a sound bite from a phone conversation she allegedly had with Yulia to Russia state television. However, The Guardian pointed out that “[t]he audio recording of the conversation … was made by Viktoria despite not knowing it was Yulia calling her when she picked up the phone,” which raises some questions about its authenticity.
Viktoria also dismissed the idea that Russian traitors were ever targeted by Vladimir Putin’s government.
On Thursday, Viktoria appeared on a talk show on Russian state TV, along with two Russians that British authorities believe carried out the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, and Litvinenko’s father who openly blames the U.S. government for killing his son.
During the interview, Walter Litvinenko warned Viktoria that the British government would very likely poison the Skripals in the hospital “just like they poisoned my son three times in the hospital. It’s very dangerous to get involved with the British.”
Litvinenko's warning echoes the Russian government, which has strongly suggested that the British government could be behind the attack on the Skripals.
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