US Army soldier detained in Russia, charged with criminal misconduct: officials

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A U.S. Army soldier was detained in Vladivostok, Russia, last Thursday and has been charged with criminal misconduct, according to officials.

A senior U.S. defense official identified the soldier as Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, who was stationed in South Korea and on leave to head home, when he went to Russia.

Black was at the end of his tour and made a detour on his way back home.

Russian authorities claim Black stole something and arrested him, the official said, though it is largely thought to be a trumped-up charge in order to arrest an American.

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The Russian city of Vladivostok

A photo shows the view from an observation point in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, on September 13, 2023. (Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP via Getty Images)

“The Russian Federation notified the U.S. Department of State of the criminal detention in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” Army spokesperson Cynthia O. Smith said. “The Army notified his family, and the U.S. Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the soldier in Russia.”

Smith was unable to provide any additional information due to the sensitivity of the matter.

NBC News was first to report that the soldier was detained in Vladivostok.

Black joins a growing list of Americans being held in Russian jails, including corporate security executive Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

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Gershkovich at Moscow court

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.  (AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

The U.S. government has designated Whelan and Gershkovich as being wrongfully detained, and have been trying to negotiate for their release.

Other Americans who are being held in Russian jails include Travis Leake, a musician who had been living in Russia for years and was arrested in 2023 on drug-related charges; Marc Fogel, a teacher in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for drug-related charges; and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana.

U.S. Army private Travis King, who last year bolted to North Korea, was charged with a host of crimes in the U.S. ranging from desertion to possessing child pornography. King faces eight charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which also include making false statements and disobeying superior officers.

According to Reuters, the Army has charged him with broad misconduct prior to his escape to North Korea, including a previous attempted escape from U.S. military custody in October 2022. 

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People walking

King has been held by North Korean authorities since July 18, when he intentionally crossed into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. (Reuters)

King has also been accused of soliciting a Snapchat user in July 2023 to “knowingly and willingly produce child pornography.” He was also accused of possession of child pornography.

He was also charged with insubordination for leaving his base after curfew and drinking alcohol in violation of Army regulations.

King, a Private 2nd Class in the U.S. Army who has served since 2021, entered North Korea on foot on July 18, when he reportedly sprinted away from a tour group into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

The incident happened after King finished approximately two months in a South Korean detention facility following a physical altercation with locals, a senior defense official previously told Fox News. Throughout the time he was held at the facility, he made comments that he did not want to come back to America, according to a U.S. official.

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North Korea’s state media reported that King confessed to crossing into the North because of “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”

King was eventually returned to U.S. custody in September. 

Reuters, The Associated Press and Fox News Digital’s Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.



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