Bellingcat founder reveals how latest suspect was identified

Bellingcat founder reveals how latest suspect was identified

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins and investigative journalist Christo Grozev revealed how they identified the second Salisbury suspect in a meeting at the House of Commons today.

The investigative website have published a report claiming that the suspect in the Skripal poisoning case going by the name of  Alexander Petrov, is actually a military doctor called Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a highly decorated officer in the GRU.

The investigation was carried out with the help of Russian news site, The Insider, who managed to track down and visit the village of Loyga, where Mr Mishkin grew up.

Locals recognised photos of him and a source close to Mr Mishkin's grandmother claimed she had seen a photo of him receiving a Hero of Russia award medal from Vladimir Putin.

Mr Grozev told the audience that Mr Mishkin's grandmother had vanished three days ago from the village.

"We would’ve loved to have talked to the grandmother but the sequence of events made it impossible," Mr Grozev said.

The pair presented their findings to an audience of journalists and members of the public, with Conservative MP, Bob Seely, chairing the meeting.


'Changing our world'

The passport reportedly belonging to the second suspect. Image: PA

The MP said that open source investigation was "changing our world" and suggested it could be the "future" of criminal investigation.

Bellingcat has previously reported that the other suspect in the Salisbury poisoning, going by the name of Ruslan Boshirov, was called Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, another highly decorated officer in Russia's military intelligence service.

The full report into how the latest Salisbury poisoning suspect was identified has been published on the Bellingcat website.


Life at risk

Eliot Higgins (left) answers questions after Bellingcat's press conference

Mr Higgins said that he was "perhaps" putting his life in danger by publishing the identities of the Salisbury suspects, but "there's only so much you can do".

"You never know what might be round the corner" he said.

"There's only so much you can do, but we're very careful about things like cyber security. We're all very aware of that at Bellingcat. We do lots of work with organisations to provide training for journalists to protect themselves.