For at least five years, Russia monitored the emails of Yulia Skripal — the daughter of a Russian former spy poisoned last month, British officials said Friday.
British national security adviser Mark Sedwill outlined the spying in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Friday.
Skripal, 33, and 66-year-old father and former Russian spy Sergei Skripal were attacked with a nerve agent last month in a shopping district of Salisbury, Britain. Officials say they were poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok.
Many Western nations — including the United States, Britain, France and Germany — have blamed the Russian government for the attack.
“I would like to share with you and allies further information regarding our assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian state was responsible for the Salisbury attack,” Sedwill wrote in the letter.
According to Sedwill, British government officials have information that shows Russian intelligence began targeting Yulia Skripal’s email five years ago.
“Dating back at least as far as 2013, email accounts belonging to Yulia Skripal were targeted by [Moscow] cyber specialists,” Sedwill said. “Only Russia has the technical means, operational experience and motive for the attack on the Skripals and that it is highly likely that the Russian state was responsible. There is no plausible alternative explanation.”
Sedwill said within the last decade, Russia has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichok, which was found on Sergei Skripal’s front door.
Russia has “a proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination,” Sedwill wrote, citing the 2006 poisoning death in London of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
In 2016, Britain’s investigation into Litvinenko’s death concluded he was poisoned with polonium-210, believed to have been given him in a cup of tea.
The inquiry concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin probably approved the killing. As with the Skripal case, Russia denied involvement.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday the Russian-made Novichok nerve agent was indeed used to attack the Skripals.
In its report, the OPCW didn’t specifically name the poison, but it said its experts “confirmed” Britain’s claim that it was Novichok.
By Susan McFarland