Russia Detains US Soldier Who Entered From South Korea

( – An American soldier has been detained in Russia and accused of stealing. Staff Sgt. Gordon Black was stationed in South Korea but traveled to Vladivostok alone to visit a woman he reportedly had a romantic relationship with. Reports suggest he undertook the journey without the permission of his military superiors. The Pervomaisky District Court of Vladivostok subsequently ruled that he will remain in detention until July.

Official court papers reveal that Mr. Black is accused of “committing secret theft of the property of a citizen” and causing “significant damage” to the alleged victim.

Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith said Black left US Forces Korea in April, purportedly to travel back to the United States, but went to Russia via China for “personal reasons.” Smith said the Army had notified the US State Department and Mr. Black’s family of his detention and promised to provide “appropriate consular support to the Soldier.”

A spokesperson for the Russian government insisted that the matter was not connected to international affairs, politics, or espionage and described it as a “purely domestic crime.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said he was deeply concerned by the arrest and noted that the State Department warns Americans that it is not safe to travel to Russia.

Subsequent reports indicated that Staff Sgt. Black has a history of sympathy with the Kremlin. In a previous vote posted online, he is quoted as saying that NATO has behaved aggressively toward Moscow and that he understands Russia’s anti-Western standpoint.

Melody Jones, Mr. Black’s mother, confirmed that he had visited Russia to see a girlfriend and pleaded with officials there not to harm him. The 34-year-old enlisted in the US Army in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq a year later. An Afghanistan deployment followed in 2013.

Several Americans are currently held in Russian jails, including US Marine Paul Whelan, who was accused of spying and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2020.

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