The Russian prime suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack have given their “first and last interview” about the case, the journalist who met the pair has said.
Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russian state-sponsored network RT, said the duo – who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the men suspected by British intelligence of carrying out the poisoning – want “this story to be over”.
Ms Simonyan told BBC Newsnight the pair contacted her mobile phone to set up the interview, but only if she agreed to a strict tranche of conditions that would minimise the prospect of them being tracked down.
The RT interviewer told the BBC: “We had a conversation before the interview and they said that they had several conditions on which they were ready to give an interview.
“And one of the conditions was that no questions would be allowed that would allow the media to track their acquaintances or their business partners or their relatives or their classmates or whomever.
“As they said – and this is their words not mine – that this is their first and last interview to the media ever.
“They want this story to be over, and they don’t want to give any hints or extra information to the media.”
Ms Simonyan said the two men had agreed to send her images of their visit to Salisbury Cathedral – a landmark Boshirov had mentioned was one of the main draws for their visit to the Wiltshire city – but had since failed to do so.
The phone the pair used to make contact with the journalist no longer appeared to be in service, she said.
Ms Simonyan said: “They told me that if they found those pictures, they would send them to me on WhatsApp. I’m still waiting. They didn’t have them on them.
“I tried to call them on the phone on which they called me but it has been out of coverage.
“They said if they found the pictures they would send them to me but I am still waiting.”
UK authorities believe the pair arrived on a flight from Moscow in March and smeared the highly toxic chemical Novichok on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of former spy Sergei Skripal, leaving Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia critically ill.
Officers formally linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury where Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent.
Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.
A police officer who visited the home of the Skripals shortly after the attack, Nick Bailey, was also left critically ill from exposure to the substance.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement.