MOSCOW, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal is a traitor to his motherland but Moscow has no need to poison him.
"Some information sources are pushing the idea that Skripal is almost a human rights activist. He is just a spy, a traitor to the motherland," Putin said at a plenary meeting of the Russian Energy Week forum.
He reiterated that Russia had nothing to do with the poisoning of the ex-spy and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury in March.
According to the president, the scandal around Skripal was artificially inflated as hassles between secret services have a long history.
"As it is well known, espionage, like prostitution, is one of the most important professions in the world. Nobody has managed to stop them and nobody is still able to do it," Putin said at a Q&A session.
Britain has accused Russia of launching a nerve agent attack against the Skripals and identified two Russian men as the attackers. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusation.
The poisoning case triggered a diplomatic row in which Russia and some Western countries expelled a large number of each other's diplomats. The United States has also imposed massive economic sanctions against Russia over the incident.
Skripal, 66, was sentenced in Russia in 2006 to 13 years in prison for cooperating with the British Secret Intelligence Service MI-6 and releasing names of Russian intelligence officers working undercover in Europe.
In 2010, the former double agent was pardoned as part of a spy swap and then moved to Britain.
Both the father and the daughter have survived the alleged nerve agent attack.