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Russia confirms U.S. soldier Gordon Black arrested on theft charges, will be held until July

A Russian court confirmed Tuesday that a US soldier will be detained for at least two months after his arrest on theft charges.

“The Pervomaisky District Court in Vladivostok arrested American soldier Gordon Black until July 2 under the ‘theft’ article” of the Russian criminal code, court spokeswoman Elena Oleneva said in a statement. communicated.

Black, a staff sergeant, was arrested in Russia last week and will be remanded in custody, the court said in a separate statement, referring only to “American Citizen B.”

The court said Black was accused of “secretly stealing the property” of a person called “Citizen T”, adding that this caused the alleged victim “significant damage”.

His detention was intended to prevent him from escaping charges, the court heard.

“The court came to the conclusion that American citizen B., under the weight of the accusations, in order to avoid responsibility, could hide from the preliminary investigation authorities and the court, thereby preventing the course of the case” , indicates the press release.

NBC News revealed Monday that the soldier was arrested after traveling from his post in South Korea to the Russian city of Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east.

He was returning home to the United States and stopped in Russia to meet a woman with whom he was romantically involved, officials said.

Black was arrested Thursday, a U.S. military spokesman said Monday.

The official TASS news agency reported Tuesday that the Russian Foreign Ministry office in Vladivostok said his detention had nothing to do with politics.

“This case has nothing to do with politics or espionage. From what we understand, a domestic crime (is suspected) in this case. This is why the mission of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Vladivostok is not closely following the case of the American citizen,” the mission said, according to the TASS agency.

Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday he was “deeply concerned” by the news. He said on X that the detention was “a warning to all Americans: as the State Department has said, it is not safe to travel to Russia.”

Current travel guidelines from the U.S. Department of State advise against travel to Russia.

Several other Americans are being held in Russian prisons, including Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was imprisoned last March, and former Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in 2018. The U.S. government said both were wrongly detained.

Meanwhile, another US citizen has been arrested and detained in Russia, it was revealed on Tuesday. The man, named Russell William Nycum, was sentenced to 10 days in prison for “petty hooliganism,” according to the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Citing REN-TV, RIA said that the American “got drunk, climbed through the window into a children’s library and fell asleep there.”

The Associated Press reported that arrests of American citizens in Russia have reached Cold War levels.

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