Sergei Skripal: poisoned ex-spy discharged from hospital | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.05.2018
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Sergei Skripal: poisoned ex-spy discharged from hospital

Doctors in the UK released former double agent Sergei Skripal from hospital in Salisbury two months after he and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent. The 66-year-old had spent weeks in a coma.

The former double agent Sergei Skripal left hospital on Friday, over two months after he and his daughter were discovered unconscious on a bench in the UK town of Salisbury.

The UK accused Russia of poisoning the exiled intelligence officer, who had been convicted of treason in Russia.

What we know so far:

  • Sergei Skripal was discharged from the Salisbury District Hospital after spending around ten weeks in treatment for poisoning
  • His daughter, the 33-year-old Yulia Skripal, was discharged last month
  • Medical officials say they cannot give detailed accounts Skripals' treatment due to patient confidentiality
  • The UK's National Health Service (NHS) said the patients had been "acutely unwell" due to nerve agent poisoning
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Yulia Skripal released from UK hospital

Unprecedented challenge

Representatives of the Salisbury District Hospital said Skripal's treatement would continue "away from the hospital."

"It is fantastic news that Sergei Skripal is well enough to leave Salisbury District Hospital," hospital chief Cara Charles-Barkes said. "That he, Yulia and DS Bailey [the policeman also exposed to the poison] have been able to leave us so soon after coming into contact with this nerve agent is thanks to the hard work, skill and professionalism of our clinicians, who provide outstanding care to all our patients, day in and day out."

Director of Nursing Lorna Wilkinson said that treating Skripal and "the other two people poisoned by this nerve agent, while still providing outstanding care to the other patients who rely on our hospital, has been a huge and unprecedented challenge that I’m proud our staff at Salisbury Hospital have risen to."

Read more: Germany got Novichok sample from Russia in 1990s

Waiting for new insights: According to UK authorities, Skripal, his daughter, and police officer Nick Bailey were all exposed to the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, originally developed in Russia. The UK publically blamed Moscow for Skripal's poisoning and imposed new sanctions over the widely-publicized incident. Russia has denied any involvement and hinted at a UK-led conspiracy to discredit Moscow. After emerging from weeks in coma, both Skripals have so far been tight-lipped on the circumstances of the poisoning. Any future revelations from the two could have dramatic impact on the UK-Moscow international standoff.

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Russia says UK is ‘playing with fire’

Skripal's high treason: Skripal, formerly a colonel in Russia's military intelligence service, was recruited by the British MI6 in the 1990s. In addition to delivering confidential information, the double agent betrayed dozens of Russian operatives before his arrest in 2004. A Russian court found Skripal guilty of high treason and passed a 13-year-sentence in 2006, but Skripal was shipped to the UK in 2010 as part of a spy exchange. His daughter Yulia moved with him, but soon returned to Moscow. She was visiting her father in March when the poisoning took place.

Further treatment: Notably, the statement published on the NHS website did not provide information on any long-term medical consequences of the poisoning.

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