Thursday September 20th, 2018 4:46PM

The Latest: Police: Probe into spy poisoning will last weeks

By The Associated Press
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LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

British police say the investigation into the chemical agent attack on a former Russian spy will last many weeks, and that they are not declaring a person of interest yet in the probe.

In a brief statement outside police headquarters, new counter-terror chief Neil Basu offered more details on the movements of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia before they were attacked in the English town of Salisbury on March 4. He appealed to the public to come forward if they saw the pair that day.

Basu says the public will see much police activity in and around the city over the coming days and that they should not be alarmed.

Basu also revealed for the first time that Skripal was a British citizen — a fact that might color the government's response to the incident.

___

2:15 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister says Berlin is "very concerned" about the poisoning of the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England and is voicing solidarity with Britain.

Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement that he spoke by phone Tuesday with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. He said that "we condemn this attack with a banned chemical weapon in the strongest terms."

Gabriel said that the perpetrators must be brought to justice and added: "If it is confirmed that Russia is behind this, that would be a very serious matter."

Gabriel is to be replaced as foreign minister by Heiko Maas, who is a member of the same party, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government takes office on Wednesday.

___

1:45 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said "it sounds" like Russia was responsible for the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in England.

Trump told reporters he will discuss the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in southern England with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday.

"It sounds to me that they believe it was Russia and I would certainly take that finding as fact," Trump said. He added the U.S. will condemn Russia if it agrees with Britain's findings.

His comments came after May told Parliament it is "highly likely" Russia was to blame for the attack.

British police and intelligence reports say that the Skripals were poisoned by a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia.

___

12:40 p.m.

British police have cordoned off a parking lot ticketing machine in the southwestern city of Salisbury as authorities retraced the steps of a former Russian spy and his daughter targeted in a chemical weapons attack.

The ticketing machine near a shopping center in Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London, was covered by a tent similar to those at other sites where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were seen during a March 4 excursion into the city.

A bench where the pair were found and markers for Skripal's son and wife in a nearby graveyard are also beneath tents.

Authorities say the pair were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent and that Russia is "highly likely" to be behind it. Prime Minister Theresa May is demanding an explanation.

___

12:25 p.m.

The French Foreign Ministry says the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain is "a totally unacceptable attack."

Without mentioning Russia, the ministry said in a statement that France repeatedly expressed "its refusal of impunity for those who use or develop toxic agents."

According to the statement, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, to express France's solidarity to "a top and strategic ally."

___

12:20 p.m.

A senior European Union official is calling for an EU-wide response to the poisoning of a former spy amid questions over whether Russia is to blame.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said Tuesday that "we cannot have nerve gas being used in our societies. This should be addressed by all of us."

He told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, that "it is of the utmost importance that those who are responsible for what has happened see very clearly that there is European solidarity, unequivocal, unwavering and very strong."

Timmerman's appeal is a show of solidarity amid tense negotiations on Britain's departure from the EU next year.

Ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in England last week and remain in critical condition.

___

Noon

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd says police and the domestic security service will look into a number of deaths in Britain that may be linked to Russia.

In a letter made public Tuesday, Rudd says the government takes seriously allegations that some 14 deaths may have some links to Russia.

"In the weeks to come, I will want to satisfy myself that the allegations are nothing more than that," Rudd said. "The police and MI5 agree and will assist in that endeavor."

BuzzFeed News reported in 2017 that some 14 deaths in Britain and the United States dating back to 2006 may have been linked to Russia. The cases include some prominent critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin including oligarch Boris Berezovsky and whistle-blower Alexander Perepilichny.

The list also includes former spy Alexander Litvinenko, killed by radioactive tea in 2006, a killing that British officials have linked to the Russian government.

___

11:50 a.m.

The British representative to the world's chemical weapons watchdog says it is highly likely that Russia is implicated in the nerve agent attack on a former spy and his daughter "by failure to control its own materials or by design."

Ambassador Peter Wilson told the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Tuesday that "I did not expect to have to brief this council on the first offensive use of a nerve agent of any sort on European territory since World War II."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union.

Wilson has called the attack "not just a crime against the Skripals. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the U.K., which put the lives of innocent civilians at risk." His comments to the closed-door meeting were tweeted by his delegation.

___

11:30 a.m.

The chairwoman of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament says Britain is trying to influence this weekend's Russian presidential election by accusing Moscow of poisoning an ex-spy.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in an English city last week and are in the hospital in critical condition.

Valentina Matviyenko, who is the third most senior official in Russia, said on Tuesday the British prime minister's statement aims to "exert influence and pressure" on the March 18 vote.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russia is "highly likely" to be responsible for the attack.

___

11:20 a.m.

A former chief of Russia's main domestic intelligence agency says another post-Soviet nation could be the source of a rare nerve agent that Britain said was responsible for poisoning a Russian ex-spy in an English city last week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War.

Nikolai Kovalyov, former chief of the FSB, told the Russian news agency on Tuesday that Novichok used to be stored in different parts of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, which have since become independent nations, and that Ukraine or another post-Soviet nation could be the source of it.

Britain has asked the Russian ambassador in London to explain how the nerve agent turned up in the English city of Salisbury, leaving Skripal and his adult daughter in critical condition.

___

11:15 a.m.

Russian news agencies say the Foreign Ministry has summoned the British ambassador in Moscow over the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy.

The foreign ministry was quoted by Russian wires as saying that the ambassador must visit the ministry later on Tuesday.

Britain says a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union was used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. It has demanded a response from Moscow.

___

10:40 a.m.

The chief of the world's chemical weapons watchdog says that those responsible for the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter "must be held accountable."

In a speech Tuesday to the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called him Monday evening to inform him of the results of investigations into the attack on 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament that Russia is "highly likely" to blame for poisoning Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent.

Uzumcu says that, "It is extremely worrying that chemical agents are still being used to harm people. Those found responsible for this use must be held accountable for their actions."

Uzumcu's comments to the closed-door meeting were released by the OPCW.

___

10:30 a.m.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia will only cooperate with Britain on the investigation into last week's poisoning of an ex-Russian spy if it receives samples of the nerve agent that is believed to have sickened the ex-spy and his daughter.

Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday Moscow's requests to see samples of the nerve agent have been turned down, which he called a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production of chemical weapons. He insisted that Russia is "not to blame" for the poisoning.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union. May said Russia has until the end of Tuesday to explain how the substance ended up in Britain.

Lavrov said on Tuesday Moscow is willing to cooperate with the probe but suggested that London would be "better off" complying with its international obligations "before putting forward ultimatums."

___

9:35 a.m.

Britain's government is considering how to deal with the poisoning of an ex-spy as it awaits a Russian government response to its claim that Russian was involved.

Officials said Tuesday Prime Minister Theresa May is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures.

May has said it is "highly likely" Russia was involved in the nerve agent poisoning of 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia. Both remain in critical condition.

The prime minister says Russia has until the end of Tuesday to explain its actions in the case, which focuses on a former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain and then released in a spy swap.

Former foreign minister David Miliband has urged May to seek support from Europe and the United States.

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