- The UK on Wednesday accused two Russian men of attempting to kill a former Russian spy in England with nerve agent earlier this year.
- A British couple was also exposed to the poison when they unwittingly picked up a fake perfume bottle containing the poison.
- British police released photos of the counterfeit bottle.
- They said Russian operatives made it look like perfume by luxury brand Nina Ricci.
- The poison has killed one person and put three more in hospital.
British police have released photos of a perfume bottle they say was used in the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy.
London’s Metropolitan Police published images of a bottle, which they say was a counterfeit of the Premier Jour scent by designer brand Nina Ricci.
Officers said the bottle has been specially adapted by Russia’s GRU security agency in order to apply novichok, a rare Soviet-era nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this year in Salisbury, England.
Both Skripals were taken to hospital and ultimately survived. But the bottle was later found abandoned near the site of the attack.
A British man, Charlie Rowley, picked up the bottle and gave it as a gift to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess. Thinking it was expensive perfume, Sturgess used the poison on herself and died. Rowley also fell ill but survived because of his lesser exposure.
In a statement Wednesday, police said that tests by British chemical weapons experts found that the bottle contained a “significant amount” of novichok, and that the same batch had been used in both poisonings.
The photos were among a cache of evidence when British authorities accused two Russian men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of carrying out the attack. They are officers at Russia’s intelligence services, also known as the GRU, Prime Minister Theresa May said.
How an unwitting British couple became collateral damage
Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy, and his daughter collapsed in downtown Salisbury after being exposed to the poison on Skripal’s front door on March 4, police said.
Some time during that period a fake perfume bottle containing the poison was discarded in Salisbury and ultimately found itself in a charity bin in the town. Police are still not clear what happened.
Charlie Rowley, a British man who lived in the nearby town of Amesbury, then picked up a box containing a perfume from the charity bin on June 27.
The box, which was labelled as Nina Ricci’s “Premier Jour” perfume, contained a bottle and an applicator.
Rowley tried to put the two parts of the bottle together at home on June 30, during which he got some of the poison on himself.
He then gave the perfume to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who then sprayed the liquid on her wrists. She fell ill later that day and died in hospital eight days later.
Rowley told journalists in late July that the perfume was an “oily substance,” and “didn’t smell of perfume.” He added that when he accidentally got some of the substance on himself he washed it off immediately.
He also said that upon spraying the substanc on her wrists, Sturgess complained of a headache and said she needed to lie down in the bath.
The bottle, box, and nozzle were all fake and especially adapted to fit and look like a Nina Ricci perfume bottle, police said, citing interviews with the company and its own investigations.
Theresa May said that the way the novichok was disguised as perfume suggested that the two suspects had used the bottle to smuggle the nerve agent into the country.
She told Parliament on Wednesday: “The manner in which the bottle was modified leaves no doubt it was a cover for smuggling the weapon into the country, and for the delivery method for the attack against the Skripals’ front door.”
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