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U.K. Officer Hospitalized In Russian Poisoning Case Released As A Second Is Admitted

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Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who came to the aid of a former Russian spy and his daughter was released from Salisbury District Hospital Thursday after treatment for exposure to a deadly nerve agent.
Wiltshire Police, AP

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who came to the aid of a former Russian spy and his daughter was released from Salisbury District Hospital Thursday after treatment for exposure to a deadly nerve agent.

The police officer who was hospitalized after rushing to help a former Russian spy and his daughter suffering from a poison attack in Salisbury, England, was discharged Thursday.

In a statement released by police, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey said he needs more time to regroup and recover but that normal life "will never be the same."

Bailey was treated at Salisbury District Hospital for several weeks after being exposed to the same deadly and rare nerve agent that the U.K. government says was used to target former intelligence officer Sergie Skirpal, 66, and Yulia, 33.

"People ask me how I am feeling - but there are really no words to explain how I feel right now," Bailey wrote. "Surreal is the word that keeps cropping up - and it really has been completely surreal."

The Telegraph reported a second police officer was hospitalized Thursday after investigating the nerve agent. The paper says he is being treated as an outpatient for minor symptoms, including skin irritation. Authorities believe he came into contact with an object that could have had secondary contamination from the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skirpals.

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As NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reported, the poison is called Novichok, which means "newcomer" in Russian. It was developed in a top-secret laboratory in Moscow and was once a closely held secret of the Russian government. The chemicals were developed in the 1980s as a new weapon in the waning days of the Cold War.

Earlier Thursday a British judge in the Court of Protection ruled that doctors could draw blood samples from the Skirpals for expert testing.

The father and daughter remain in critical condition under heavy sedation, and, according to the judge, lack the mental capacity to give their consent. He also agreed with experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, hoping to analyze the blood, who argued "that samples taken from living individuals are of more scientific value than post mortem samples."

Also today, the Associated Press reports the 28 European Union leaders, who had been meeting about the poisoning and how they should respond, announced that "there is no plausible alternative explanation" than that Russia ordered the attack.

"With a strong statement toward the Kremlin, the 27 leaders threw their weight behind British Prime Minister Theresa May, who contends Russia was responsible for the March 4 attack that left a Russian former spy and his daughter in critical condition.

"The 28 leaders said at their summit they 'will coordinate on the consequences to be drawn in the light of the answers provided by the Russian authorities.'

"Lithuania has already said it is considering the expulsion of Russian diplomats."

The Guardian reported Prime Minister Theresa May encouraged European leaders to follow in the U.K.'s footsteps in expelling Russian intelligence agents from their own countries.

In a speech last week, May blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attack and expelled 23 diplomats from the Russian embassy. It is the single biggest expulsion since the Cold War.

Putin's government subsequently retaliated, ousting 23 British diplomats.

Moscow denies any involvement in the attack saying the country is the victim of "unfounded accusations."

So far, President Trump has not explicitly condemned the poison attack. And, The Washington Post reported, Trump defied advisers when he called Putin congratulating the Russian leader on his reelection.

During the call, Trump didn't address the attack despite talking points from aides instructing him to do so, the Post says.

And, in a new twist CNN reported a day later the Kremlin suggested that the US was responsible for the poisoning of a former spy in Britain.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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