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Here's what we know about the American soldier detained in Russia

A U.S. Army spokesperson said Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, was not authorized to travel to Russia when he was taken into custody on suspicion of theft.
Vladivostok, Russia
Posted at 12:59 PM, May 07, 2024

Officials have now shared more information about the U.S. soldier who was arrested in Russia earlier this month.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith informed Scripps News that Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, was detained on May 2 for alleged theft of personal property. He is currently being held in a Russian detention facility awaiting trial.

Smith said Black was most recently stationed in South Korea and was scheduled to return home to Cavazos, Texas, while on permanent change of station leave. However, instead of returning to the U.S., Smith said Black traveled through China to Vladivostok, Russia, for "personal reasons."

"There is no evidence Black intended to remain in Russia after his PCS leave period ended," Smith said in a statement.

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Smith added that Black did not receive permission from the military to go to China or Russia and that travel to both countries is currently restricted under the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide. Smith said the Army notified Black's family of his arrest shortly after Russian officials informed the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

During a White House press briefing Monday, National Security Council Coordinator John F. Kirby confirmed that the State Department was aware of Black's arrest, but said he couldn't offer more details at the time.

"I can't really say much about it right now," he said.

Russia has arrested several Americans, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan. The U.S. State Department has labeled them as being wrongfully detained.