The former Russian spy found poisoned along with his daughter in the U.K. Sunday reportedly had a connection to the company behind the Steele dossier, which alleges connections between President Donald Trump and Russia.
Sergei Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, remain in critical condition in the hospital
Skripal was convicted of treason and imprisoned in 2006 in Russia for passing intelligence to MI6. In 2010 he was pardoned and sent to the UK as part of a spy swap deal.
The London Telegraph reported that he moved to Salisbury and became close to a security consultant employed by Christopher Steele, a former spy who founded an investigative research firm called Orbis Business Intelligence.
There is now speculation that Skripal might have been suspected of working on the Steele dossier and subsequently murdered to send a message:
The Telegraph reported that if the Kremlin believed Skripal helped compile the Trump dossier, it could provide a motive for the assassination attempt in Salisbury.
A former Russian construction magnate told Channel 4 News Skripal was “working in cyber-security and every month going to the [Russian] embassy to meet military intelligence officers”.
The Telegraph said a “hit squad” was dispatched by the Kremlin to assassinate Skripal, to send a message that traitors were not tolerated.
While the investigation is ongoing, there certainly exists precedent for such a move by the Kremlin, and Skripal is one of at least eight people potentially targeted by Russia since Trump was elected.
After a lawyer for Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that “somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier", media speculated the statement might have referenced former Russian intelligence officer Oleg Erovinkin.
Erovinkin was found dead in his car in December 2016, and it was later claimed he died of a heart attack.
Around the same time that Erovinkin died, The New Yorker said, Russian authorities charged a cyber security expert and two FSB officers with treason.