No.10 claims attempts to extradite Russians accused of Salisbury poisoning ‘futile’
Any attempts to set up an extradition treaty to prosecute a third man accused of involvement in the Salisbury poisoning would be “futile”.
Downing Street said this morning that the man, named as Denis Sergeev, would be prosecuted if he ever comes to the UK but there was no way to set up a formal extradition process between the two countries.
Mr Sergeev, who used the name Sergey Fedotov when he was in the UK, faces seven charges including three of attempted murder, grievous bodily harm and possession of a chemical weapon.
He is accused of attempting to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as well as former police officer Nick Bailey.
He is also accused of conspiring to murder Mr Skripal and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Ms Skripal and Mr Bailey.
They are the same charges facing two other Russian men– Alexander Mishkin, who went by Alexander Petrov while in the UK, and Anatoliy Chepiga, who used the alias Ruslan Boshirov – following the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury in March 2018.
The poison was contained in a counterfeit perfume bottle, tragically found in June that year in a charity shop bin in Amesbury by Charlie Rowley.
He was left seriously ill and his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with the deadly substance.
Investigators say they now have evidence linking the three to Russian military intelligence service the GRU, and that the trio have been involved in similar operations in other countries including Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
Speaking this morning, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “ If these individuals should ever travel outside Russia we will do everything we can to detain the, to extradite them and to bring them to justice here in the UK, but we don’t have an extradition treaty with Russia.”
He added that the poisonings were not a “rogue operation” and said: “Only the Russian state have both the technical means, experienced and the motive to carry out the attack.
“We obviously, if we can, want to ensure that we can bring these people to justice here in the UK, but you will be aware that we don’t have an extradition treaty with Russia and, as we found with other with other cases such as Litvinenko, any formal extradition request is futile.”
Nick Price, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) head of Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “We will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of Sergey Fedotov as the Russian constitution does not permit extradition of its own nationals. Russia has made this clear following requests for extradition in other cases. Should this position change then an extradition request would be made.”
Police will apply for an Interpol notice to be issued for Sergeev, aka Fedotov.
A number of other individuals remain under investigation over possible involvement in the Salisbury case.
Theresa May, former Prime Minister who was at the helm at the time of the Salisbury poisoning, welcomed the identification of the third man involved.
She said: “The use of a chemical weapon – Novichok – on the streets of Salisbury was an appalling crime which sadly led to the death of an innocent British woman Dawn Sturgess.
“I congratulate the police and all those involved in identifying this third individual and in developing the evidence leading to charges against him. This is further confirmation that responsibility for this attack lies firmly in the hands of the Russian state.
“I urge the UK government to do all it can to bring the individuals concerned to justice.”