Journalist John Pilger has described the poisoning of a Russian ex-double agent and his daughter in the UK as a “carefully constructed drama in which the media plays a role”.
Pilger said the events surrounding Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who are still in a critical condition after being attacked with a nerve agent in Salisbury, were part of a “propaganda campaign”.
In an interview on RT (Russia Today), published online on Sunday, the veteran journalist also appeared to hint at the possibility of British involvement in the attempted murder of the pair.
He said Porton Down – the UK’s secret defence laboratory – was “a few miles” from where the pair were found and had a “long and sinister record with nerve gas and chemical weapons”.
It was Porton Down that helped identify the nerve agent used in the attack on 4 March as a Soviet-era chemical weapon known as Novichok.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said there can be “no other conclusion but the Russian state is culpable for what happened on the streets of Salisbury” in the face of denials from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The UK has also received the support of France, Germany and the US.
Pilger told RT: “This is a carefully constructed drama as part of the propaganda campaign that has been building now for several years in order to justify the actions of NATO [the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation], Britain the United States, towards Russia. That’s a fact.”
He added: “The whole role of Porton Down has been integral to the Cold War apparatus of this. I’m only stating that there is no evidence.
“And this is so dangerous, with Russia being effectively pushed into a corner with these accusations, it’s part of a propaganda campaign. I can tell you that, I’m a journalist who has spent almost all my career working in the mainstream [media] in Britain.
“This is a propaganda campaign promoted specifically in the media and in the Government.”
Pilger began his career on the Daily Telegraph in his native Australia, later moving to the UK and working for Reuters before taking up a role as the Daily Mirror’s long-standing chief foreign correspondent.
He currently makes documentaries, including 2016’s The Coming War on China that aired on ITV.
He told RT: “We don’t even know if a Novichok programme even existed [in Russia]. Russia’s request for a sample of this nerve agent has been turned down. The British police have made no commentary on this. This is extraordinary.
“So you have an attempted murder, you have a crime scene and you have no evidence and neither do you have a motive. Why on Earth would Russia on the eve of an election and on the eve of staging the World Football Cup want to destroy – if you like – it’s international name with such a crime? It makes sense.
“But there’s plenty of motive on the other side, because as I mentioned at the beginning, this is part of a carefully constructed drama in which the media plays a role, the Government plays a role, both sides of the House of Commons play a role – unfortunately.
“And it’s Iraq – if you go back to 2003, that carefully constructed drama saw an invasion of Iraq and the death of up to a million people. We know that was based entirely on propaganda, deception and lies.
“That at the very least should make us sceptical of May’s theatrics in Parliament.”