Poisoned Russian spy advised Spanish intelligence, say officials

Sergei SkripalSergei Skripal, the Russian double agent who was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in England earlier this year, worked with Spanish intelligence after his defection to the United Kingdom, according to sources. Skripal, a former military intelligence officer who spied for Britain in the early 2000s, had kept a low profile while living in the English town of Salisbury. He was resettled there in 2010 by the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), after he was released from a Russian prison. But he and his daughter Yulia made international headlines in March, after they were poisoned by a powerful nerve agent that nearly killed them. The attack has been widely blamed on the Russian government, but the Kremlin denies that it had a role in it.

The attempt to kill Skripal surprised some intelligence observers due to the fact that the Russian government had officially pardoned the double agent prior to exchanging him with Russian spies who had been caught in the West. As intelNews wrote in May, “typically a spy who has been pardoned as part of an authorized spy-swap will not need to worry about being targeted by the agency that he betrayed. If it indeed tried to kill Skripal, the Russian government may therefore have broken the unwritten rules of the espionage game”. Eventually, however, it was revealed that, instead of retiring after his defection to the UK, Skripal traveled extensively in Eastern Europe, where he advised local intelligence agencies on how to defend against Russian espionage. The double agent participated in MI6-sponsored events in which he briefed intelligence practitioners in at least two countries, Estonia and the Czech Republic. These activities may have convinced the Kremlin that Skripal had broken the unwritten conditions of his release, namely that he would not participate in any intelligence-related activities against Russia.

Now The New York Times has claimed that, in addition to consulting for Czech and Estonian spies, Skripal also visited Spain, where he met with officers from the country’s National Intelligence Center (CNI). Citing an unnamed Spanish former police chief and Fernando Rueda, a Spanish intelligence expert, The Times said that Skripal advised the CNI about the activities of Russian organized crime in Spain and the alleged connections between Russian mobsters and the Kremlin. When he traveled to Spain under MI6 protection, said the paper, Skripal was effectively returning to the place where he had been initially recruited to spy for the British. Skripal spent several years in Spain, said The Times, serving as a military attaché at the Russian embassy in Madrid. It was there that he began to work secretly for MI6. However, the precise timing of Skripal’s return trips to Spain after 2010, as well as the content of his discussions with Spanish intelligence officials, remain unknown, according to The Times.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 07 September 2018 | Permalink

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2 Responses to Poisoned Russian spy advised Spanish intelligence, say officials

  1. Pete says:

    @Joseph. Regarding your last paragraph. Russian intelligence may have been particularly angry with Skripal because Skripal may have revealed the names of Spanish informants (eg. Spanish military officers) that Skripal would have met when Skripal was was working as a Russian GRU officer in Spain. These informants may have been handed over to GRU officers who replaced Skripal.

    With the knowledge Skripal gave Spain the Spanish counter-intelligence agency may have arrested or at least retired the Spanish informants, thereby further frustrating GRU activities.

  2. Bill Banks says:

    I confuse easily, an established fact. The GRU poisoned the doorway, a blunderbuss approach. However, both Skripals were found in the same park where the perfume bottle (“perfume bottle”?) was found months later. Had the unfortunates gone to a meet with the GRU officers? Given what would charitably be termed risky behavior, why was there no security for the Skripals? And why has the couple been kept on ice these many months? Presumably, they would be happy to offer damning remarks on RIS. Spies are SO tricky!

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