British Police Continue Hunt for Poison Used Against Ex-Spy

Russia? Brexit distraction? Twitter erupts amid ‘unknown substance’ case near Salisbury

Police initially believed that Sturgess and Rowley were having an adverse reaction to illicit drugs, but on Monday, the couple continued to display worrying symptoms, prompting the hospital to send samples away for rushed laboratory testing.

Interior minister Javid said police were still working to discover how exactly the two individuals were exposed to the nerve agent.

Britain blames Russian Federation for the assassination attempt, but Moscow denies any involvement.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that "Russia has categorically denied and continues to categorically deny the possibility of any kind of involvement to what was happening there".

"It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks and towns to be dumping grounds for poison", he told parliament.

Novichok is a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Officials said the highest concentration of Novichok was found on the couple's hands, leading them to suspect they encountered the poison from handling some contaminated item.

The British authorities say there was nothing in the background of the latest pair to suggest a link to espionage or to Russian Federation.

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But officials said there is no evidence that the pair visited any of the sites in Salisbury which were decontaminated after the attempted murders of the Skripals. "What are the authorities going to say to the parents of a young child who is contaminated with nerve gas because they were in Zizzi or The Mill last Sunday?" The UK rushed to accuse Russian Federation of being involved, while failing to furnish any evidence.

Now that British investigators have determined that the agent used was Novichok, they are now trying to determine whether or not it's from the same batch.

Speculation over what the item is has ranged from a tainted cigarette butt to a discarded container like a phial or syringe used to transport the nerve agent for the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

"The working assumption would be that these are victims of either the effect of the previous attack, or something else, but not that they were directly targeted", security minister Ben Wallace told the BBC.

A Wiltshire police spokeswoman declined to confirm whether the couple were believed to have been poisoned.

In the latest case, it took over four days for the authorities to identify the nerve agent responsible for the latest hospitalisations.

The victim's brother, Matthew Rowley, told ITV News the Salisbury incidents were "outrageous" and said he had not received any information about his brother's condition. And Sergei Zheleznyak, deputy speaker of the State Duma, offered a novel theory for the new poisoning claims: British people who traveled to Russian Federation for the World Cup are developing "really positive emotions" about Russian Federation and the British government is doing whatever it can to remind them that the Kremlin is bad.

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