American Soldier Detained in Russia for Theft

( – Another American has been arrested and detained by Russian police. U.S. Staff Sergeant Gordon Black, 34, has been put in jail by the order of the Pervomaiksy district court, which is located in Vladivostok, a city in the most eastern portion of Russia.

The U.S. military has confirmed that two Americans have been detained recently in Russia, but have only confirmed Black’s identity. U.S. officials believe Russia is targeting Americans to use as leverage for future prisoner exchanges. According to the Pentagon, Black traveled to Vladivostok through China, but the serviceman did so without military clearance.

Black had been stationed in South Korea. Details so far are sketchy, but Russian authorities have accused Black of stealing from a woman, and have charged him with theft “causing significant damage to a citizen.” If convicted, the serviceman could face up to five years in a Russian prison.

Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told American media that her son was with his girlfriend in Russia when he was arrested. She said cops nabbed him when he showed up at the Vladivostok airport, interrogating him for nine hour straight. Cynthia Smith, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army, said Russian authorities held Black for four days. It is unclear whether the four-day detention was connected to Black’s arrest on theft charges.

Black is not the only American recently put on ice by Russian police. Moscow police said on May 7 that American William Russell Nycum was stopped and detained almost two weeks ago. They says Nycum’s arrest is unrelated to Black’s, and that Nycum was arrested for “petty hooliganism” and charges related to alcohol.

The U.S. State Department is seeking “consular access” to both prisoners.

The latest arrests add to the growing list of Americans imprisoned in the former Soviet Union. Famously, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been held on accusations he was spying. U.S. Marine Paul Whelan was arrested in Russia in 2018 on spying charges, and was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

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