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The Russian flag flies on the dome of the Kremlin Senate building. (Stringer/Reuters/File via CNN Newsource)

US soldier arrested in Russia

May 7, 2024

By Caitlin Danaher, CNN

(CNN) — An American soldier arrested in Russia on suspicion of theft will be detained for two months, a Russian district court said Tuesday.

The soldier – whose name is Gordon Black, according to a US official – will be in detention until July 2, the Pervomaisky District Court of Vladivostok ruled.

The US citizen is accused of “committing secret theft of the property of a citizen T., causing significant damage to the latter,” the court statement said, referring to psychological damages.

A Russian Foreign Ministry representative told Russian state media TASS on Tuesday that the case is “not related to politics or espionage.”

“As far as we understand, this is a purely domestic crime. Therefore, the representative office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vladivostok does not closely monitor the fate of an American citizen,” the representative office said, according to TASS.

The arrest comes at a time of huge tension between the US and Russia as the war with Ukraine continues. There are a number of Americans being held in Russia, including two who have been declared as wrongfully detained by the US State Department – Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan.

The soldier was stationed in South Korea when he took leave to travel to Russia on his own, according to another US official. He was not AWOL, or absent without leave, at the time of the trip, the source said.

He was then set to move to Ft. Cavazos in Texas in the future, the official said, but was unable to provide a specific date for the change of station.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that a US Army officer has been detained in Russia,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said Monday.

“Putin has a long history of holding American citizens hostage. A warning to all Americans — as the State Department has said, it is not safe to travel to Russia.”

CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Oren Liebermann and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

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