A British mother of three died last week after she and her boyfriend were exposed to the same nerve agent blamed in the poisoning of a spy. Now investigators have traced the poison in the latest case to a bottle found in the home of boyfriend Charlie Rowley, who was seriously sickened himself. He lives a few miles from the town of Salisbury where Russian double agent Sergei Skirpal and his daughter Yulia fell ill in March, per Reuters. Now authorities are working to uncover whether the Novichok that killed Sturgess and sickened Rowley came from the same batch as that which poisoned the Skirpals. As the BBC notes, police are also trying to determine where the bottle came from and how it came into Rowley's possession. Novichok was first produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
“A small bottle was recovered during searches of Charlie Rowley’s house in Amesbury,” says a police statement. “Scientists have now confirmed to us that the substance contained within the bottle is Novichok.” In order to determine if the agent that sickened the Skirpals is connected to the Sturgess case, experts will reportedly test for impurities left behind in the production process and see if the samples match up. Neil Basu, head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said in a statement that the discovery of the bottle was a "significant and positive development." However, Basu said he wasn't sure yet whether there was enough of the substance left to test. Officials in the UK have blamed Russia for the poisoning of the Skirpals, though Russia has rejected the accusation. The UK nonetheless expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country in response.
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