A FORMER Russian who fell victim to an alleged nerve agent attack in Britain had previously worked with Spanish intelligence services tackling organised crime, according to media claims.
Sergei Skripal cooperated with the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) in work against Russian-run gangs in Spain.
He was previously assigned to covert work in Russia’s embassy in Madrid by the Kremlin, according to a high-ranking Spanish intelligence source and others quoted in the New York Times.
The revelations come as Skripal fell victim to an alleged Russian-sponsored chemical weapons attack in Salisbury in March.
The British government blamed Moscow for the strike and the Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement.
The New York Times piece cited intelligence sources, an unnamed retired Spanish police chief and the investigative journalist Fernando Rueda.
The sources said Russia’s Military Intelligence Service (GRU) posted Skripal in Madrid in the mid-1990’s.
He worked officially as a military attaché at the Russian embassy but carried out covert work whilst stationed there.
Skripal was recruited by British intelligence services in 2004 which led to his arrest. He was released in 2010 as part of a spy swap arrangement with the United States and then settled in Britain.
Skripal later travelled back to Spain to work with CNI officers on gang crime. Details on what he and officers discussed in their meetings remains classified.
A retired Spanish police officer said intelligence services recruited Skripal due to his knowledge on Russian gangs.
“We ignored the Russian phenomenon and its organised crime before. We did not know how they operated. Skripal offered a more precise idea of reality,” the source said.
Spanish intelligence services also recruited Alexander Litvinenko, another former spy who was poisoned with radioactive polonium in Britain in 2010.
Prosecutors and police have both acknowledged that they worked with Litvinenko on organised crime.
A lawyer acting for the former spy’s family said he was planning on travelling to Spain to expose links between the Kremlin and leading Russian gangsters before his death. This has not been confirmed.
Skripal was found unconscious along with his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March this year. They were taking into intensive care and it was later revealed they had been exposed to the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.
The incident has seen tensions between Russia and Britain and its allies escalate to levels not seen since the height of the Cold War.
Several diplomats have been expelled by both countries and Britain issued a joint statement along with several other countries condemning the alleged involvement of the Kremlin in the attack.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, both Russian citizens, were charged by British prosecutors in absentia in connection with the poisoning.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement. Investigations into the strike continue.