Novichok nerve agent victim discharged from hospital

She thought it was perfume. It was actually Soviet-era nerve agent
Facebook via CNN
Dawn Sturgess

A British man who was being treated for exposure to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok was discharged from the hospital Friday, according to a hospital official.

Charlie Rowley, 45, and his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, were hospitalized June 30 after encountering the same nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. Rowley and Sturgess lived in Amesbury, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) north of Salisbury, the southern English city where the Skripals were attacked.

Sturgess died last week, prompting police to launch a murder investigation.

“Charlie has been through an appalling experience most of us could never imagine,” Lorna Wilkinson, director of nursing for Salisbury District Hospital, said in a statement Friday. “Today is a very welcome milestone in his recovery and all of us here at Salisbury Hospital wish him well as he continues to get better.”

Police said there is no suggestion the couple were deliberately targeted. They suspect Rowley and Sturgess came into contact with the military-grade nerve agent via a contaminated item, likely a small bottle found in Rowley’s home.

Three sources briefed on the investigation told CNN on Thursday that Sturgess, believing the bottle contained perfume, dabbed some of it on and unwittingly applied a lethal dose of the substance.

It is unclear where Rowley found the bottle, or whether it contained the same batch of nerve agent used on the Skripals.

Britain blames Russia for the March attack, an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied. The attack has led to a growing diplomatic dispute between the countries.

Police have identified two suspects in the poisoning, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Thursday. The pair left the UK in the wake of the attack on what is believed to have been a commercial flight, the source added.

Their departure was revealed in a coded Russian message to Moscow sent after the attack, which a British base in Cyprus intercepted, the source said.

Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s ambassador to the UK, shrugged off the claims at a Russian Foreign Ministry event Thursday in Moscow. “These are the reports of the media,” he told reporters.

The British Foreign Office referred CNN to the police. London’s Metropolitan Police, which is leading the investigation into the Skripals, declined to comment.