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US soldier arrested in Russia pleads guilty to theft – BBC News

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  • By Brandon Drenon
  • BBC News

Image source, Gordon Black via Facebook /Reuters

A US Army sergeant has pleaded guilty to theft charges after his arrest in Russia, according to state media.

Staff Sgt Gordon Black was arrested in May and accused of stealing personal property after travelling to Vladivostok from South Korea.

He is being held at a pre-trial detention facility and will remain in custody until at least 2 July.

Melody Jones, his mother, said he was visiting a girlfriend and pleaded with Russia to ensure his safety.

“Please don’t torture him,” she said when asked on CBS News, the BBC’s media partner, about her message to Russian authorities.

Sgt Black, 34, travelled to Russia while changing duty stations from South Korea to Fort Cavazos in Texas.

The US Army said he travelled to Russia for personal reasons.

He did not request official clearance and the defence department did not authorise his travel to China or Russia, the US Army said. There is no evidence he intended to remain in Russia.

The Russian interior ministry informed the US embassy in Moscow on 3 May that Sgt Black had been arrested a day earlier for theft of personal property.

“The Army notified his family and the US Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the Soldier in Russia,” the US Army said.

Russia is holding two other Americans. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, in jail since March 2023, and former US Marine Paul Whelan, sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020.

Sgt Black enlisted as an infantryman in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2013. He was most recently assigned to the Eighth Army, US Forces Korea at Camp Humphreys.

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