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24 May, 2018 12:24

‘Duress cannot be ruled out’: ex-UK Ambassador Craig Murray unconvinced by Yulia Skripal interview

‘Duress cannot be ruled out’: ex-UK Ambassador Craig Murray unconvinced by Yulia Skripal interview

Yulia Skripal has spoken out amid concerns from Russia that she is being held in the UK against her will. Her appearance may have put some at ease, though others – like Craig Murray – have been left with more questions.

The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan turned-blogger, Craig Murray, published his concerns over what he deemed to be a troubling interview from the 33-year-old Russian, who was poisoned with a nerve agent – identified as A-234, now commonly known as ‘Novichok’ – while visiting her father Sergei in Salisbury in March.

“[I] was happy to see Yulia alive and looking reasonably well yesterday,” Murray wrote on his blog.

“Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply ‘I am not ready, I do not want their help.’ Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of ‘I do not wish to avail myself of their services,’ as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago.

“‘I do not wish to avail myself of their services’ is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the ‘I am not ready’ opening phrase of that sentence. My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round.”

Murray stated his belief that, rather than translate what Skripal said in Russian for the subtitles, Reuters may have used a script handed to them by the British government. The blogger also added that Yulia’s statement would have been more convincing if her recently released from hospital father, Sergei, was by her side.

Murray, who has blogged constantly on the Skripal incident, added: “Duress cannot be ruled out when he is held by the British authorities.

“I remain extremely suspicious that, at the very first chance she got in hospital, Yulia managed to get hold of a telephone (we don’t know how, it was not her own and she has not had access to one since) and phone her cousin Viktoria, yet since then the Skripals have made no attempt to contact their family in Russia.

READ MORE: If Novichok was used, Skripal would have died on the spot – Putin as ex-double agent leaves hospital

“That includes no contact to Sergei’s aged mum, Yulia’s grandmother, who Viktoria cares for. Sergei normally [called] his mother – who is 89 – regularly. This lack of contact is a worrying sign that the Skripals may be prevented from free communication to the outside world. Yulia’s controlled and scripted performance makes that more rather than less likely.”

As well as an apparent telephone blackout, Murray labeled it “particularly concerning” that Yulia does not seem to have social media access. “The security services have the ability to give her internet risk free through impenetrable VPN,” he said. “But they appear not to have done that.”

The ex-diplomat’s questions stem from Skripal’s first appearance since surviving the nerve agent attack when she and her father, Sergei, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. The UK government immediately accused Russia of being behind their poisoning, a claim the Kremlin has vehemently denied. Skripal did not comment on who she thought was to blame for her poisoning.

Yulia was released from the hospital on April 9, disappearing into the protection of a UK government safe house. She is now understood to be rehabilitating at an undisclosed location in London.

In Wednesday’s interview with Reuters, Skripal said she eventually wants to return to Russia. She also reiterated what she had said in an earlier written statement released by British police: “no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.”

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