On September 5, British authorities named two suspects in the Salisbury and Amesbury poisoning case, and also released photographs of the two men in security camera footage from different locations in the Britain. According to British Prime Minister Theresa May, the two men are suspected operatives of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, colloquially known as the GRU.
Among the materials released by the British government were two separate photographs, one of each suspect passing through a customs control corridor at London’s Airport.
Later, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova appeared on the Russian talk show 60 Minutes, on the state-owned channel Rossiya-24. She attacked the British evidence based on the photographs of the two men at Gatwick. With the photos of both men on the screen in front of her, Zakharova pointed out that the time stamps on both photos were identical down to the second. She implied that it would be impossible for two people to occupy the same space at the same time.
Fact checkers on the internet quickly pointed out a problem with the spokeswoman’s detective work. It is clear that the two men are walking in different, but identical-looking corridors at the same time. While the surroundings are identical, the photographs were taken at slightly different angles, indicating different cameras in different positions.
Bellingcat released a report showing the corridors from another angle. Given their position and construction, it is entirely possible for two people walking abreast at the same pace to walk into adjacent corridors and be photographed at the same second, as Bellingcat put it, “here are multiple parallel gates that would have allowed the two suspects pass through the gates at the same time.”
One question remains, however. When comparing the photographs released by British authorities to the ones shown on the Russian TV program, part of the upper left-hand corner of one of the photos cannot be seen. What does appear in that corner makers it much easier to see that the camera is at a different angle and thus cannot be in the same corridor as the one which took the other photo. It It is not possible to know if the omission on the TV program was coincidental, or whether that was deliberately cropped out. But no matter the motive, the cropped pictures support a false claim by Zakharova.