American Army Sergeant Detained in Russia for Theft

WNBA Star's Possible Prison Condition Revealed in Multiple Images

( – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon D. Black, 34, who had been stationed in South Korea, was arrested on May 2nd and is being detained in Vladivostok, Russia.

According to two Pentagon officials, Black was detained after a woman accused him of stealing. A Vladivostok police spokeswoman said Black was reported to the police by Irina Sirova, 32, after a disagreement and falling out between the two, and she discovered money was missing. In a video she posted on social media, Sirova and Black met in South Korea, and he was in Russia visiting her. Russian authorities have said Black will be detained in jail until at least July.

Black’s mother, Melody Jones, said her son was visiting his girlfriend in Russia. Jones asked Russia to “not torture him [or] hurt him.”

Black, who is in the process of changing duty stations back to the United States from Korea, was not in Russia on official travel. U.S. Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said Black “did not request official clearance” and had traveled through China to Vladivostok instead of returning to the U.S. directly.

According to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, he could not “say much” about the case now but acknowledged that the U.S. is “aware of this case.”

For months, the U.S. has warned Americans not to travel to Russia, urging those who live there to leave immediately. In September, an updated travel advisory noted that Americans traveling in Russia could potentially be singled out “for detention by Russian government security officials.”

Black’s detainment comes as the U.S. continues to attempt to secure the release of two other American citizens, former Marine Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, both of whom the U.S. considers wrongfully detained in Russia. Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018, was sentenced to 16 years in prison after being convicted of spying. In March 2023, Gershkovich was jailed on espionage charges and is awaiting trial.

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