Tag Archives: agent

U.S. Border agent charged with murdering Mexican claims self-defense

U.S. Border agent charged with murdering Mexican claims self-defenseA U.S. Border Patrol agent charged with murdering a Mexican teenager when he fired across the border in 2012 testified on Monday that he acted in self defense after rocks were thrown at him. Agent Lonnie Swartz, 43, is charged with murder in the shooting death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez on Oct. 10, 2012. Swartz, who has been on trial in U.S. District Court in Tucson, Arizona, since March 20, sobbed on Monday while recounting the shooting.



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Daughter of ex-Russian spy gives first statement after nerve agent poisoning

Daughter of ex-Russian spy gives first statement after nerve agent poisoningYulia Skripal thanked her doctors in a statement, as Russia continues to deny responsibility for the attack on her and her father.



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UK lab says cannot determine spy nerve agent was Russian-made

UK lab says cannot determine spy nerve agent was Russian-madeThe British military facility analysing the nerve agent used to poison a spy said on Tuesday it could not prove the substance was made in Russia, as Russian President Vladimir Putin put his hopes in a meeting with the world’s chemical weapons watchdog. Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Porton Down defence laboratory, told Britain’s Sky News that analysts had identified the substance as military-grade Novichok, the word used for a category of nerve agents developed in Soviet times. “It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured,” Aitkenhead said.



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UK's Porton Down denies it could have been source of nerve agent that poisoned ex-spy

UK's Porton Down denies it could have been source of nerve agent that poisoned ex-spyBritain’s military research facility at Porton Down said it could not have been the source of the nerve agent that poisoned Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury this month, the BBC reported on Friday. The BBC quoted Porton Down Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead as saying there was “no way” the substance could have come from its laboratories as Russia has suggested. Russia denies any involvement in the attack on the pair who have been critical in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in Salisbury.



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Russian envoy to UK pens letter to cop sick from nerve agent

Russian envoy to UK pens letter to cop sick from nerve agentThe Russian ambassador to Britain wrote Friday to a policeman exposed to a nerve agent during the poisoning of a former Russian spy in southwest England, insisting on Moscow’s innocence and thanking him for his bravery. Alexander Yakovenko told Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was released from hospital Thursday following two weeks of treatment, that he hoped the officer, as well as targeted ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, “get well soon”. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for your bravery when reacting to the assault on two Russian nationals,” he wrote.



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Jeremy Corbyn mocked by his own MPs after claiming Russia should be given the right to test nerve agent itself

Jeremy Corbyn mocked by his own MPs after claiming Russia should be given the right to test nerve agent itselfJeremy Corbyn has been mocked by own MPs after saying Russia should be given a sample of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack so it can "say categorically one way or the other" whether it is responsible.  The Labour leader also said he would be happy to work with President Putin if he was Prime Minister and stopped short of blaming the Kremlin for the attack, despite his deputy John McDonnell doing so over the weekend.  It exposes a deepening split in the party's position on the nerve agent attack which has left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a coma in hospital.  Last week Mr Corbyn was criticised for refusing to categorically blame Russia for the Novichok poisoning and his communications chief drew further ire when he claimed British intelligence cannot be trusted after the Iraq war dossier.  Responding to his latest remarks on the issue Mr Corbyn was roundly mocked by his own MPs including Ian Austin, a member of the Foreign Affairs select committee, who joked that Mr Putin would never accuse himself of having smuggled the nerve agent into the UK to use against the former spy.  He said: "Does anyone seriously think Putin will say: ‘Thanks for the sample. We have now examined it and yes, I'm sorry to say that it did come from Russia and was then given to one of our agents to murder Mr Skripal in the way we have murdered lots of other opponents’? Who thinks that?” Russian spy poisoning | Read more Speaking to the BBC's World and One programme Mr Corbyn said: "All fingers point towards Russia's involvement in this, and obviously the manufacture of the material was undertaken by the Russian state originally. "What I'm saying is the weapons were made from Russia, clearly. "I think Russia has to be held responsible for it but there has to be an absolutely definitive answer to the question where did the nerve agent come from? I asked the Russians be given a sample so that they can say categorically one way or the other."  In a move that is likely to spark further frustration among Labout MPs Mr Corbyn maintained there had to be a relationship with Russia and said he would still "do business" with president Putin if Labour came to power. Corbyn or the Russian Embassy | Who said what "Would I do business with Putin, sure? And I'd challenge him on human rights in Russia, challenge him on these issues and challenge him on that whole basis of that relationship," he said.  John Woodcock, chair of Labour's backbench foreign affairs committee, warned allowing Russia to test the poison would be "like saying you trust the fairness of Putin's re-election because he told you it was fine".  He added: "Russia denies every single assassination attempt on foreign soil, no matter how blatant.  "In what parallel universe would we think sending Putin's regime a sample of their poison would lend more credibility to this latest denial?" It came as Theresa May chaired a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss additional sanctions on Russia after the Kremlin ejected 23 British diplomats from the country. 23 Russian officials, thought to be undeclared spies, left the UK today. The Prime Minister told the meeting: "There are other measures that government and security officials are actively considering and stand ready to deploy at any time." She revealed action has been taken at the UK border to beef up visa checks, particularly for private flights, and amendments to the sanctions and money laundering bill are also taking shape.  A spokesman for Mrs May said: "The Prime Minister reiterated that we will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have evidence that they may threaten UK persons or property. And, led by the National Crime Agency, we will continue to bring all the capabilities of the UK law enforcement to bear against serial criminals and corrupt elites."



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Jeremy Corbyn mocked by his own MPs after claiming Russia should be given the right to test nerve agent itself

Jeremy Corbyn mocked by his own MPs after claiming Russia should be given the right to test nerve agent itselfJeremy Corbyn has been mocked by own MPs after saying Russia should be given a sample of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack so it can "say categorically one way or the other" whether it is responsible.  The Labour leader also said he would be happy to work with President Putin if he was Prime Minister and stopped short of blaming the Kremlin for the attack, despite his deputy John McDonnell doing so over the weekend.  It exposes a deepening split in the party's position on the nerve agent attack which has left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a coma in hospital.  Last week Mr Corbyn was criticised for refusing to categorically blame Russia for the Novichok poisoning and his communications chief drew further ire when he claimed British intelligence cannot be trusted after the Iraq war dossier.  Responding to his latest remarks on the issue Mr Corbyn was roundly mocked by his own MPs including Ian Austin, a member of the Foreign Affairs select committee, who joked that Mr Putin would never accuse himself of having smuggled the nerve agent into the UK to use against the former spy.  He said: "Does anyone seriously think Putin will say: ‘Thanks for the sample. We have now examined it and yes, I'm sorry to say that it did come from Russia and was then given to one of our agents to murder Mr Skripal in the way we have murdered lots of other opponents’? Who thinks that?” Russian spy poisoning | Read more Speaking to the BBC's World and One programme Mr Corbyn said: "All fingers point towards Russia's involvement in this, and obviously the manufacture of the material was undertaken by the Russian state originally. "What I'm saying is the weapons were made from Russia, clearly. "I think Russia has to be held responsible for it but there has to be an absolutely definitive answer to the question where did the nerve agent come from? I asked the Russians be given a sample so that they can say categorically one way or the other."  In a move that is likely to spark further frustration among Labout MPs Mr Corbyn maintained there had to be a relationship with Russia and said he would still "do business" with president Putin if Labour came to power. Corbyn or the Russian Embassy | Who said what "Would I do business with Putin, sure? And I'd challenge him on human rights in Russia, challenge him on these issues and challenge him on that whole basis of that relationship," he said.  John Woodcock, chair of Labour's backbench foreign affairs committee, warned allowing Russia to test the poison would be "like saying you trust the fairness of Putin's re-election because he told you it was fine".  He added: "Russia denies every single assassination attempt on foreign soil, no matter how blatant.  "In what parallel universe would we think sending Putin's regime a sample of their poison would lend more credibility to this latest denial?" It came as Theresa May chaired a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss additional sanctions on Russia after the Kremlin ejected 23 British diplomats from the country. 23 Russian officials, thought to be undeclared spies, left the UK today. The Prime Minister told the meeting: "There are other measures that government and security officials are actively considering and stand ready to deploy at any time." She revealed action has been taken at the UK border to beef up visa checks, particularly for private flights, and amendments to the sanctions and money laundering bill are also taking shape.  A spokesman for Mrs May said: "The Prime Minister reiterated that we will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have evidence that they may threaten UK persons or property. And, led by the National Crime Agency, we will continue to bring all the capabilities of the UK law enforcement to bear against serial criminals and corrupt elites."



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Only Moscow could conduct Salisbury attack, says Russian scientist who warned world of nerve agent without cure

Only Moscow could conduct Salisbury attack, says Russian scientist who warned world of nerve agent without cureThe former Russian double agent and his daughter poisoned by a deadly nerve agent will either die or be crippled by their exposure to Novichok, according to the whistleblower who alerted the world to Russia’s secret chemical weapons programme. Vil Mirzayanov, a chemist who worked at the heart of the Soviet programme, said Russia was the only country able to produce and deploy such a powerful nerve agent, and he warned that many more people may fall ill. “It is at least 10 times more powerful than any known nerve agent. Plus practically it is incurable,” he said at his New Jersey home on Monday evening. “These people are gone – the man and his daughter. Even if they survive they will not recover. That is the terrible damage it does. “I’m afraid many more people were exposed.” Dr Vil Mirzayanov first alerted the world to the danger of Novichok nerve agents in 1992  Credit: Rob Crilly He added that he believed the poison used in the Salisbury attack would have been manufactured in Russia as two, harmless components. They would have been brought into the UK and then combined inside a tiny, easily hidden aerosol spray that could be used to deliver a deadly dose and a “deliberate demonstration” to Moscow’s enemies around the world. He spoke hours after Theresa May gave Vladimir Putin until the end of Tuesday to explain the use of Novichok or face retaliation. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have been in hospital in a critical condition since being found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre on March 4. Novichok Mrs May said either Russia carried out the attack or had lost control of its nerve agent. Dr Mirzayanov said even the existence of Novichok, let alone its formulae, had been a closely guarded secret, making it “unthinkable” that another country or terrorist group had been allowed access or help in its manufacture. “Only Russia could do this,” he said. “They would never give it away.” The Russian scientist, who fled his homeland in 1995 and now lives in New Jersey, revealed the existence of the Novichok family of nerve agents in 1992 but said it was still so little understood that it had never been banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Nor had it ever been declared by Russia. That made it perfect for assassinations, he said, as Russian security forces believed it could not be traced to Moscow. This was the first time it had ever been used, according to Dr Mirzayanov, who added it was most likely weaponised as a spray. “It can be delivered in many ways but it was most probably given in aerosol can,” he said. “It can be small, just 10 grammes would be a lot. In summer maybe just two grammes would be enough to kill 500 people.” It would almost certainly have been manufactured in Russia, he added. “They can send anywhere through the diplomatic bag,” he said. For 26 years Dr Mirzayanov worked for GOSNIIOKhT (the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology or better known in Russian as “Goodnight”), the Soviet Union’s premier military centre for producing chemical weapons. Russian spy poisoned | Profile of Sergei Skripal, the Russian spy who was poisoned in Sailsbury He headed a counter-intelligence unit which monitored the surrounding area to ensure Novichok – the Russian for “newcomer” – or other nerve agents were not leaking out where they could be detected and analysed by foreign spies. He went public about the programme in 1992 after discovering frightening levels of chemicals outside the facility. Dr Mirzayanov was fired and arrested for treason. The subsequent trial collapsed but not before he managed to copy down 60 secret documents submitted in evidence. They formed the basis of a book detailing Russia’s secret programme written after he was allowed to leave the country. He has lived ever since in New Jersey, where he took a post at Rutgers University. He had no idea his old life was about to intrude when he read about the apparent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury last week. “I never, ever supposed they would use Novichok,” he said. Instead he assumed it was VX – like that used by North Koreans to kill the estranged half brother of Kim Jung-un in Malaysia. “I supposed that there was no necessity to use it. It’s more brutal, more painful,” he said. “But what could be so important that you have to use something this terrible? “It was a deliberate demonstration by Vladimir Putin of his power against his enemies. This was a brazen and deliberate demonstration.” The agent causes vomiting and convulsions as the central nervous system shuts down, he said. It was developed as part of the Soviet Union’s ongoing quest to refine its arsenal of chemical weapons, as scientists tried to find variants with improved stability, rates of reaction and ability to permeate the skin.



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Moscow to London: Let us examine nerve agent used in spy poisoning

Moscow to London: Let us examine nerve agent used in spy poisoningRussia will only respond to a British demand it provide answers about the nerve agent that poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal if London lets Moscow analyze the substance, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday. British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Moscow was responsible for the poisoning in England of Skripal and his daughter using a military-grade nerve agent that was part of the Novichok group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military.



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White House denounces U.K. nerve agent attack, mum on Russia

White House denounces U.K. nerve agent attack, mum on RussiaThe White House on Monday denounced the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England with a nerve agent as “an outrage” but did not echo London’s charge that Moscow was “highly likely” to be behind the attack.



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