Novichok used Navalny ‘harder’ than previous forms: Spiegel

FILE PHOTO: Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny made a speech during a rally to demand the release of the jailed protesters, who were detained in Russia on September 29, 2019, during protests for the fair elections.

BERLIN (Reuters) – The Novichok nerve agent used to poison Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was ‘tougher’ than previous forms, Der Spiegel magazine said as head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service.

Bruno Kahl, head of Germany’s Foreign Intelligence Service, reported that Spiegel called a “secret meeting” about the power of the poison, the magazine said, but gave no other details of the meeting.

Spiegel said a delegation from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had said that a weekend visit to the hospital in Berlin where Navalny is being treated.

The BND Foreign Intelligence Service declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. “The federal intelligence service will comment on any conclusions, particularly on the responsible committees of the federal government and the German Bundestag,” a spokesman said.

Navalny, most critic of President Vladimir Putin, traveled to Germany last month after falling violently ill while traveling in Siberia.

German doctors say he was poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok. Moscow says it has not seen any evidence that he was poisoned.

Der Spiegel reported on Thursday that Navalny made further progress in his recovery, and was able to speak again.

Reporting by Andreas Rinki; Writing by Paul Carol; Editing by Catherine Evans and Francis Carey