A Russian ex-spy and his daughter, who nearly died in March after being exposed to a rare nerve agent in the United Kingdom, will be offered new identities and the opportunity to be resettled in America.
According to a Sunday report by The Times of London which cited an intelligence source, British officials are seeking to relocate Sergei and Yulia Skripal to a “five eyes” country, a reference to the intelligence-sharing partnership between the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“The obvious place to resettle them is in America,” said the source, “because they’re less likely to be killed there and it’s easier to protect them there under a new identity.”
After being found unconscious on March 4, the Skripals were hospitalized for weeks in critical condition, yet have improved recently and are no longer in immediate danger of losing their lives, hospital officials acknowledged. Even so, senior U.K. officials said that the pair “would likely never be the same again” and could “require ongoing medical care.”
Prior to being relocated to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer, was convicted of spying for Britain.
British authorities have deduced that Russia was responsible for the attack on the Skripals, which involved a military-grade nerve agent that was first developed in the Soviet Union. The case is being inspected by more than 250 counterterrorism officers who are working to locate suspects and determine the delivery mechanism of the poison, which is believed by British authorities to have been applied to the door of Sergei Skripal’s house.
Russia has denied perpetrating the attacks, accusing the U.K. of spreading baseless smears and demanding that the U.K. share its evidence from the investigation.
Britain has given samples of the nerve agent used in the attack to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog group that is expected to release its findings soon.
The case of the poisoning for the Skripals has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Moscow and the West. Approximately two dozen countries joined Britain and expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats. Russia responded by expelling a similar number of envoys from those countries.