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Russian ex-spy sees link between Skripal and GCHQ officer found dead in 2010

Published: April 16, 2018
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A former officer in the Soviet KGB, who now lives in the United Kingdom, is to be questioned by British police after alleging that there is a link between the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the mysterious death of a British intelligence officer in 2010. There has been extensive media coverage in the past month of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian former military intelligence officer who spied for Britain in the early 2000s and has been living in England since 2010. Nearly every European country, as well as Canada, Australia and the United States, expelled Russian diplomats in response to the attack on the Russian former spy, which has been widely blamed on the Kremlin.

But eight years ago, another mysterious attack on a spy in Britain drew the attention of the world’s media. Gareth Williams, a mathematician in the employment of Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, had been seconded to the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Britain’s external intelligence agency, to help automate intelligence collection. He had also worked with United States agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. But his career came to an abrupt end in August 2010, when he was found dead inside a padlocked sports bag at his home in Pimlico, London. It remains unknown whether his death resulted from an attack by assailants.

Last weekend, however, Boris Karpichkov, a former intelligence officer in the Soviet KGB and its post-Soviet successor, the FSB, said that Williams was killed by the Russian state. Karpichkov, 59, joined the KGB in 1984, but became a defector-in-place for Latvian intelligence in 1991, when the Soviet Union disintegrated. He claims to have also spied on Russia for French and American intelligence. In 1998, carrying two suitcases filled with top-secret Russian government documents, and using forged passports, he arrived with his family in Britain, where he has lived ever since. In an interview with the British tabloid newspaper The Sunday People, Karpichkov said that Williams was killed by Russian intelligence operatives with an untraceable poison substance, because he had discovered the identity of a Russian agent within his agency, the GCHQ. According to Karpichkov, Williams had befriended the mole, codenamed ORION by the Russians, and had realized that he was working for the Russians. The mole then allegedly told his Russian handler, a non-official-cover officer with an Eastern European passport, codenamed LUKAS, that Williams had grown suspicious.

Eventually, the Russians made an attempt to recruit Williams, allegedly by threatening to reveal his secret transvestite lifestyle to his supervisors at GCHQ. But, according to Karpichkov, Williams rejected the Russian advances and told the Russians in no uncertain terms that he would report the attempt to recruit him to British intelligence. At that point, said Karpichkov, “the SVR had no alternative but to kill [Williams] to protect their agent inside GCHQ”. At the last meeting between the two men in Williams’ apartment in the London borough of Pimlico, LUKAS allegedly offered the GCHQ mathematician a glass of wine that contained “a mixture of amyl nitrate and the Viagra drug Sildenafil”. After Williams became unconscious, Karpichkov says that the SVR dispatched a special operational team known as “the cleaners”, whose members killed the British intelligence officer. They did so, said Karpichkov, by injecting his ear with “a plant-based poison made from belladonna, aconite and black henbane mixed with other chemicals”, which was designed to escape the attention of forensic medical examiners.

Karpichkov told The Sunday People that —unbeknownst to him— he lived very lose to Williams at the time. He had grown suspicious, he said, because he had noticed many marked Russian diplomatic cars in the area in the month prior to Williams’ death. The former KGB spy said he was worried that the Russians were planning to kill him. When he saw media reports about Williams’ killing, he realized the Russian diplomatic cars had been there for the GCHQ employee and not for him, he said. “I had never seen those cars before and I never saw them again”, said Karpichkov. He added that “the Russian security services are the connection” between the cases of Skripal and Williams.

Also on Sunday, police in the city of Salisbury, where Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned, announced that it would speak to Karpichkov about his allegations regarding Williams and Skripal.

► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 16 April 2018 | Permalink

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