American Soldier Arrested In Russia While On Weekend Trip

( — The US Army confirmed on Monday that an American soldier stationed in South Korea had been detained in Eastern Russia last week while on a personal trip.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black traveled to Russia from his base in South Korea without permission from his superior officers, according to US officials.

Black’s deployment was finished and he was returning to the United States at the time he took the trip to Vladivostok to visit his girlfriend. Officials confirmed that Black had been in pretrial confinement at the time after being accused of stealing from a woman.

It was not clear if the woman he was visiting in Russia was the same woman he was accused of stealing from.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith confirmed that Black was detained by Russian authorities last Thursday on criminal misconduct charges.

Smith said Russian officials notified the State Department as required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Army contacted Black’s family and US consular officials were in contact with the soldier.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) expressed deep concern over Black’s detention given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “long history of holding American citizens hostage.”

McCaul reiterated the State Department’s warning, urging Americans not to travel to Russia.

The State Department’s current travel guidance places restrictions on Americans traveling to Russia “due to the risk of wrongful detentions,” and warns those traveling there to exercise extreme caution.

Military personnel are also warned against visiting Russia.

The number of Americans detained by Russian authorities has increased as relations between the two countries cooled after Russia invaded Ukraine more than two years ago.

US officials have accused Moscow of targeting Americans to use as bargaining chips.

Among the Americans held in Russia is former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in 2018 on espionage charges. He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.

Last March, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, on charges of espionage.

US officials say both Whelan and Gershkovich were wrongfully detained.

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