They Met Over Whiskey. They Talked Spycraft. Is That Why Skripal Was Poisoned?

Nothing about Mr. Skripal’s travels seems all that unusual. John Sipher, who retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2014 and as soon as ran covert operations in opposition to the Russians, stated the United States routinely deployed Russian defectors to lecture the intelligence companies of its allies, although their conferences with different businesses can be stored secret to keep away from angering Moscow.

“There is a bit of a game where, O.K., the guy spied for us, we got what we wanted, and now that we’re out, we’re not going to rub your nose in it,” he stated.

Sharing data and expertise is usually the one approach a former spy could make a dwelling, consultants stated. Mr. Ilves, the previous Estonian president, referred to as it the “spook version of a lecture tour.”

For former double brokers, retirement may be boring and anticlimactic. The British authorities supplies a stipend, however up to now defectors have protested that it’s too small. In the late 1990s, a former spy named Victor Makarov filed a criticism in opposition to the British intelligence companies over his depressing dwelling situations and finally ended up tenting exterior Prime Minister Tony Blair’s residence in protest.

Others have resorted to inventive and unlawful means to reinforce their pensions. Oleg Gordievsky, a senior Okay.G.B. officer whose defection in 1985 was a severe blow to the Soviet authorities, hosted a recreation present for a time. Mikhail Butkov, one other Okay.G.B. defector, was imprisoned for 3 years for making a faux enterprise faculty and defrauding would-be college students out of 1.5 million kilos.

“It’s psychological — they’ve been in the limelight, and they’re not important anymore,” stated Stephen Dorril, the creator of quite a few books about Britain’s intelligence companies.

Mr. Skripal seemed to be having fun with a cushty, although modest, retirement. In Salisbury, the comfy cathedral city the place he lived, the previous Russian intelligence officer belonged to the Railway Social Club, drove a darkish crimson BMW and owned a tidy red-brick house on Christie Miller Road.

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