UK to request extradition of Russian novichok attack suspects
Reports suggest Moscow unlikely to comply with British government’s request
The UK government is reportedly preparing to submit an extradition request to Moscow for the Russian citizens suspected of carrying out the Salisbury novichok nerve agent attack that left a Wiltshire woman dead.
According to Whitehall sources speaking to The Guardian, UK authorities “have pieced together the movements of the two Russians, from their entry into the UK through to their departure”.
An insider told the newspaper: “The CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] has been asked to prepare extradition requests and we understand they are ready to go.”
Referring to the spat between Russia and the UK over the 2006 poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, the sourced added: This is Litvinenko all over again. It’s almost a rerun of the situation. The police have managed to identify the people coming over and going back again.”
However, Sky News claims that while the “central premise” of the extradition claims is correct, proceedings are “not as advanced as the reports suggest”.
The broadcaster says that Russia's embassy in London claims they have not yet received an extradition request, and have called the reports “bogus”.
Any extradition request is “likely to be rejected by Russia” and “risks inflaming diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow, which are the worst since the Cold War”, says Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The Russian Constitution forbids the extradition of Russian citizens to another state, as was evidenced by Russia’s refusal to hand over the men wanted for the murder of Litvinenko.
British police are still investigating the death of 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess. She and her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill at their home in Amesbury on 30 June after being exposed to novichok, the nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in nearby Salisbury in March.