Nerve agent victim Charlie Rowley released from U.K. hospital after poisoning

Charlie Rowley has been released from hospital in England after he and a woman were attacked with the nerve agent Novichok, police say.

Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, were exposed to the nerve agent on June 30

Police stand guard on Muggleton Road in Amesbury, England, where Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Charlie Rowley has been released from the hospital after three weeks of treatment since being poisoned with a nerve agent, U.K. officials said Friday.

Lorna Wilkinson, the director of nursing at Salisbury District Hospital, said Rowley, 45, was discharged after making substantial progress in recent days.

"Charlie has been through an appalling experience most of us could never imagine," she said. "Today is a very welcome milestone in his recovery."

Officials say Rowley and his partner, Dawn Sturgess, fell ill June 30 after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok when they handled a small bottle containing the nerve agent. Officials believe the substance was from the same batch used in the March nerve agent attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Sturgess, 44, died in the hospital on July 8, eight days after she became violently ill at Rowley's home in Amesbury in southwestern England. Rowley became ill several hours later with similar symptoms.

Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok. (Metropolitan Police/The Associated Press)

Police initially thought the two had taken contaminated heroin or crack cocaine but tests indicated they were poisoned by Novichok.

Novichok was produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Britain has blamed Russia for poisoning the former spy and his daughter, who both recovered after lengthy hospitalizations, as well as accidentally poisoning Rowley, Sturgess and a police officer who aided the Skripals.

Russia has strongly denied the charges. The poisoning of the Skripals ignited a diplomatic confrontation in which hundreds of envoys were expelled from Russia and Western nations.

2nd round of nerve agent poisonings

The second round of nerve agent poisonings put the towns of Amesbury and Salisbury, where Sturgess lived, on edge as more than 100 counterterrorism officers searched for the source of the Novichok.

Nursing director Wilkinson said "many people" had come to the hospital concerned about possible exposure to Novichok but that only the five victims already identified had been exposed to the lethal nerve agent.

She said Public Health England has determined that Rowley "poses no risk to the public" now that he is out of the hospital.

Wiltshire Police Chief Const. Kier Pritchard said police will work with local agencies to make sure Rowley gets the support he needs as he continues to recover.

British officials have taken the Skripals to a secret location for their own protection.