Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent two months ago, leading to a major diplomatic standoff with Russia, was on Friday discharged from a Salisbury hospital and taken to an undisclosed location.
The 66-year-old former Russian double agent and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a shopping centre bench in the Salisbury town on March 4. They were hospitalised in critical condition after he was found poisoned and spent weeks in critical condition.
Yulia, 33, recovered more quickly than her father and was discharged last month and also taken to an undisclosed location.
“This is an important stage in his (Skripal’s) recovery, which will now take place away from the hospital,” said Lorna Wilkinson, director of nursing at Salisbury District Hospital, where the Skripals were treated since being admitted on March 4.
“While these patients have now been discharged, their right to patient confidentiality remains and limits us from giving detailed accounts of the treatment these individuals received,” a hospital statement said.
“However, treating people who are so acutely unwell, having been poisoned by nerve agents, requires stabilising them, keeping them alive until their bodies could produce more enzymes to replace those that had been poisoned,” it added.
The poisoning incident had triggered a major diplomatic crisis after the British government accused the Kremlin of organising the attack Skirpal and his daughter with a Soviet-era deadly nerve agent called Novichok.
Russia has staunchly denied the allegations, which also led to other Western countries joining the United Kingdom in expelling Russian diplomats from their countries.
British security officials continue to question the former spy and reportedly want to know more about his frequent train journeys to London and his alleged monthly meetings with a former MI6 handler in a Salisbury restaurant.
Russia, meanwhile, has accused the UK of “forcefully containing” the Skripals as the Kremlin maintains it was not behind the attack and that Britain has invented a “fake story”.
Nick Bailey, the police officer who first attended the Skripals on the day of the poisoning, was also treated for exposure to the nerve agent and was the first to be discharged.
Salisbury District Hospital Chief Executive, Cara Charles-Barks, said it was “fantastic” news that Skripal was well enough to be discharged.
“That he (Sergei), Yulia and Detective Sergeant Bailey 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,” she said.
“This has been a difficult time for those caught up in this incident – the patients, our staff and the people of Salisbury. I want to thank the public for their support, and I want to pay a special tribute to both the clinical staff here at the trust and those who work so hard behind the scenes,” she said.
International chemicals weapons inspectors had confirmed that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s.