the mystery deepens
March 28, 2018

Police in Britain say Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, first came in contact with the nerve agent that poisoned them at the front door of their house.

Earlier this month, the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench outside a mall in Salisbury. Sergei Skripal was once a Russian military intelligence officer, later convicted of passing along information on Russian spies to Britain; he was released from jail as part of a spy swap in 2010, and moved to Salisbury. British Prime Minister Theresa May has said the Skripals were poisoned by a nerve agents developed by Russia, from a group known as Novichok agents, and there is "no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable."

The agent used in the attack may have delivered through a "gloopy substance" smeared on the front door's handle, the BBC reports. Sergei and Yulia Skripal both remain in critical condition, and his niece, Viktoria Skripal, said doctors gave them "a very small chance of survival." Catherine Garcia

February 23, 2017

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed by a highly toxic VX nerve agent that the United Nations has classified as a weapon of mass destruction, Malaysian police said Friday.

Earlier this month, Kim Jong Nam was at the Kuala Lumpur airport when he said a woman grabbed his face and sprayed him with some sort of chemical; he died from a seizure on the way to the hospital. Authorities say a preliminary analysis of swabs taken of his face and eyes shows ethyl N-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate, the most potent of all nerve agents, which is lethal after just a fraction of a drop is absorbed through the skin.

Previously only seen in chemical warfare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says exposure to VX nerve agent can lead to convulsions, paralysis, and fatal respiratory failure. The police have said two attackers rubbed a liquid on Kim's face before they fled and washed their hands. Catherine Garcia

February 22, 2017

Malaysian police say there have been attempts to break into the morgue where the body of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is being held.

Nine days ago, after he said a woman sprayed chemicals in his face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kim Jong Nam died from a seizure on his way to the hospital. Authorities investigating his death announced Tuesday they want to question a senior North Korean diplomat and a man linked to Air Koryo, the state airline in North Korea, and police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said it's "strongly believed" that four suspects left Malaysia on the day Kim died and fled to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. He added that police know the identities of the attempted morgue raiders, but declined to name them.

Police have arrested four people in connection with Kim's death — a Vietnamese woman, a Malaysian man, a North Korean man, and an Indonesian woman who claimed she was tricked into participating in an attack against Kim. Khalid says this isn't true, and the suspects all practiced the operation in public spaces. The incident has strained ties between North Korea and Malaysia, one of just a few countries that has open relations with Pyongyang. Catherine Garcia

March 4, 2015

More information is coming out about the homeless man shot and killed by police in Los Angeles on Sunday, including that he was a convicted bank robber who took over a French man's identity 15 years ago in order to gain entrance to the United States.

"He fooled a lot of people, including us, years ago," French consul general Axel Cruau told the Los Angeles Times. He said that the man, identified by the LAPD as Charley Saturmin Robinet, stole the identity of the real Robinet in the late-1990s. The man calling himself Robinet was convicted of a bank robbery in 2000, and Cruau said that French officials let the United States know that Robinet had assumed someone else's identity and was not a French citizen. The actual Charley Saturmin Robinet is still alive and living in France. Catherine Garcia

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