April 5, 2018 / 10:52 AM / 4 months ago

Up to UK to prove Russia was behind attack on spy, German official says

BERLIN (Reuters) - Britain needs to show proof that Russia was behind last month’s poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, the German government’s coordinator for Russia said on Thursday.

Gernot Erler said pressure was rising on Prime Minister Theresa May’s government after Britain’s military research centre, at Porton Down, said on Tuesday it could not say yet whether the nerve agent used in the attack had been produced in Russia.

“That contradicts what we had previously heard from British politicians and will certainly raise the pressure on Britain to show further proof that the traces plausibly point to Moscow,” Erler told German broadcaster ARD.

He added that additional secret service information appeared to have led Britain to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

“Apparently, there were such reports from the British side, based on secret service information, so that not only Porton Down played a role but also additional information,” Erler said.

“But these (reports) are not known publicly and now there is pressure for more of this information to be made known, otherwise the whole thing is not transparent,” he said.

Germany has joined Britain, the United States and other Western countries in expelling Russian diplomats over the attack in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4. Russia responded with its own diplomatic expulsions.

Escalation of tensions between the West and Russia must stop, Erler said, calling for a pause while Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons carries out an independent investigation into the toxin used in the attack.

Writing by Paul Carrel, editing by Larry King

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