Theresa May demands Vladimir Putin hand over Russian Novichok ‘hitmen’ ahead of G20 showdown

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THERESA May is demanding two Russian security agents be handed over to face justice in the UK over the Novichok attack.

The Prime Minister will use face-to-face talks with the country’s leader Vladimir Putin urging the pair be out on trial over the poison attack in Salisbury.

Theresa May accompanied by husband Philip on her final appearance at a major summit in Japan
Theresa May accompanied by husband Philip on her final appearance at a major summit at G20 in Japan
PA:Press Association

She will use their first major showdown since the nerve agent incident to raise the prospect of convicting the duo in the UK.

Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left seriously ill after the horrific incident last March.

Mrs May will use her first one-on-one meeting at the G20 summit in Japan on Friday to send a “clear message”.

She said: “I’m going to make absolutely clear the position the UK takes in relation to what happened in Salisbury.

“We believe these individuals should be brought to justice.”

The two men, known under the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were tracked down by British intelligence and police officers and charged with attempted murder over the incident.

She added that “we have identified the evidence, we have identified two individuals” who carried out the attack.

The pair deny the accusations and claim they were in the cathedral city on a tourist visit.

Mrs May, who is making her final appearance at a major summit, added: “What this meeting enables me to do is to give that very clear message leader to leader.”

Following the Salisbury attack more than 150 Russian diplomats were expelled from more than 20 countries.

Downing Street insist Friday’s meeting doesn’t mean the relationship with Moscow is back to normal.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We remain open to a different relationship but that can only happen if Russia desists from actions which undermine international treaties and collective security.”

VLAD ‘FUSS’ REBUFF

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the assassination attempt on ex-Soviet spy Skripal a fuss
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the assassination attempt on ex-spy Skripal a ‘fuss’
Getty – Contributor

On Thursday night Mr Putin said he hoped there could be a thaw in diplomatic relations with the UK after they were frozen in the wake of the Salisbury poisonings.

He said: “I think Russia and UK are both interested in fully restoring our relations, at least I hope a few preliminary steps will be made.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, he appeared to brush aside concerns about the assassination attempt, saying that trade between Russia and the UK was more important.

He said: “Listen, all this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations. This spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopecks.”

He said that “treason is the gravest crime possible and traitors must be punished” but insisted that Sergei Skripal had already been jailed in Russia and so he was “off the radar” afterwards.


Tech's terror-hunters

TECH firms are being ordered to have teams of “online first responders” to take down online terror content, Mrs May will tell the G20 on Friday.

They will be directly linked to the heart of governments’ Counter-Terrorism units and law enforcement to help stop the spread of hatred.

The PM will use a summit session on innovation to press that violent extremist content is taken down – including that carried on live-streaming.

She wants companies such as Facebook and YouTube to take down material within an hour.

The propaganda would have a ‘digital fingerprint’ that allows companies to act quickly on re-uploads.

She is expected to say: “We should do all we can to bring the best minds together across industry to develop technology to tackle the misuse of live-streaming.

“We’ve seen the damage when terrorists can advertise into people’s homes – now we mustn’t let them broadcast their atrocities in real time.”

“There are no easy answers but I am sure that by combining different methodologies to detect illegal and harmful content we will be able to find an approach that severely limits terrorists ability to live-stream. In the UK we are encouraging social media companies to develop these techniques at pace. Others should do the same.”

Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:05hrs on 04 March 2018
Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV on Fisherton Road, Salisbury on 04 March 2018
Handout – Getty
Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia Skripal were left fighting for their lives after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok on March 4, 2018, in Salisbury
Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia Skripal were left fighting for their lives after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok on March 4, 2018, in Salisbury
Rex Features

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