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article imageOp-Ed: Many questions remain on Skripal poisoning but press is silent

By Ken Hanly     Apr 28, 2018 in Crime
It is over two weeks since Yulia Skripal was released from hospital and reportedly taken to a safe place. There have been no further reports on her condition or on that of her father who was also said to be recovering but more slowly.
The two were discovered unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4th, according to the official narrative having been poisoned by a Novichok type nerve agent that was alleged to have been produced by Russia. At first it was thought both would die but as it turned out both survived.
Yulia was released on April 10. A statement by the police was released on her behalf but as I pointed out in a Digital Journal article at the time everything was kept under wraps. Yulia had been conscious and talking for some time and even had an alleged phone call with a relative, Viktoria in Russia. The Russian embassy has tried in vain to gain access to Yulia as she is a Russian citizen. Victoria too wanted a visa to come to the U.K. to see Yulia but was refused a visa.
Authorities must have interviewed both Sergei and Yulia about what happened
If reports are to be believed, Yulia has been fit for interrogation for ages. It is beyond belief that no such questioning has taken place. What were the results? Surely she and her father are key to help understand what happened. After all, they were directly involved. Yet we have not received one bit of information about what she said.
The father too could be well enough to answer questions. There is evidence from the phone call of Viktoria that he was out of his coma and asleep. However, we have not received a single update and reporters are not up to asking questions about his condition apparently. Reporters who are usually demanding interviews have remained silent and are not clamoring for more news to be released. Even when Yulia was released from the hospital, the announcement was made without allowing any reporters to ask questions.
We do not know where Yulia is or the condition of Sergei. Presumably he is still in the hospital but who knows. Perhaps both have been whisked off and given new identities some have suggested could be done.
Instead of dealing with these questions, there are articles dealing with the negative effect on tourism the poisoning has had on the tourism industry in Salisbury as in this DeutscheWelle article and on decontamination as in this BBC article.
The Moon of Alabama and Craig Murray
A recent post by blog Moon of Alabama explains why we may not be receiving any information about what Yulia and Sergei told authorities about the issue. The post notes that a former senior servant Clive Ponting is quoted by former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray as suspecting that the UK government issued a D-notice to desist from reporting on Mr. Skripal's handler. Murray also noted that Alex Thomsen on March 12 also mentioned a D-notice related to Mr. Skripals M16 handler. Whether there is such an order or not with respect to reporting on what the Skripals have said to authorities, the situation is as if there were such an order.
A D-notice is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as a British government instruction preventing particular information from being made public in order to protect the country.
What a complicated web!
The Moon blog post points out: "The D-Notice attempt Thomsen mentioned was too late as some media had already reported the name of the Skripal's MI6 handler. We spelled it out on March 8. One Pablo Miller, a British MI6 agent, had recruited Sergej Skripal. The former MI6 agent Christopher Steele was also involved in the case. Skripal was caught by the Russian security services and ewent to jail. Pablo Miller, the MI6 recruiter, was also the handler of Sergej Skripal after he was released by Russia in a spy swap. He reportedly also lives in Salisbury. Both Christopher Steele and Pablo Miller work for Orbis Business Intelligence which created the "Dirty Dossier" about Donald Trump."
The Moon blog wonders if Steele got Skripal to help make up the dossier about Trump. Did Skripals' old connections try to contact people in Russia to ask about Trump dirt? Of course these are not questions which authorities are likely to answer. While we could easily drift into conspiracy theories at this point, at the very least if what the Moon blog says is true there are certainly those other than the Russians who might have motives to poison Sergei although it is not clear why Yulia should be involved.
Changing official records
On April 26 Dilyana Gatandzhiev tweeted: "Dilyana Gaytandzhiev @dgaytandzhieva - 21:24 UTC - 26 Apr 2018
The #Skripals were allegedly exposed to the drug #Fentanyl, not the #Novichok nerve agent, according to information obtained from the UK Clinical Services Journal"
The original version of the report from March 5 said: "Salisbury District Hospital declared a “major incident” on Monday 5 March, after two patients were exposed to an opioid. ...It followed an incident hours earlier in which a man and a woman were exposed to the drug Fentanyl in the city centre. The opioid is 10,000 times stronger than heroin."
On April 27, a day after the above tweet Gaytandzhiev noted that the passage had been redacted. Moon of Alabama blog verified that the text has changed. The text now reads: "Salisbury District Hospital declared a “major incident” on Monday 5 March, after two patients were exposed to what is believed to be an opioid.It followed an incident hours earlier in which a man and a woman were exposed to a substance in the city centre." All reference to Fentanyl as a cause of the illness has been removed.
Strange that a small journal should change its text in this way but it may simply be to be consistent with official findings. However, the local Salisbury Journal gave a similar report on March 5th and that report is still up: "Police declared a major incident after a man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s were found unconscious on a bench in the shopping centre on Sunday. Emergency services at the scene suspected the substance may have been a powerful drug called fentanyl, but nothing has yet been confirmed." Of course it was not confirmed.
Another local news site also headlined on March 5: "Major chemical incident declared after 10 people vomited fentanyl and two are critically ill."
There have been plenty of technical studies of whatever the agent was and they show that it was a type of novichok nerve agent. That the early reports indicate it was fentanyl should hardly count for as much as the official analysis although it remains puzzling why the two did not die and why others saw the symptoms as of fentanyl.
As the appended video shows a Swiss lab analysis pointed to an entirely different agent BZ.
Craig Murray along with some others think that there is right now a D-order preventing publication of information about the case. If Russia is indeed the culprit it would seem that a D-order is the last thing necessary. However, a U.K. order, if it exists, does not prevent the remainder of the press outside the U.K. from investigating and reporting. Yet there is silence elsewhere as well.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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