Home News Russia sentences US soldier to four years in prison

Russia sentences US soldier to four years in prison

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A Russian court on Wednesday sentenced a U.S. Army sergeant to nearly four years in prison for stealing the equivalent of $100 from a woman he was in a relationship with and making death threats against her.

Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, was arrested last month in the Pacific port of Vladivostok after the woman, who authorities have not publicly identified, filed criminal charges. He had been visiting the woman in Russia after his tour of duty in South Korea.

issue a statement A Vladivostok court statement said Officer Black stole the money during a domestic argument and threatened to kill the woman, saying the theft caused “considerable harm” to the woman.

Several Russian criminal lawyers said the sentence was much harsher than Russian citizens could receive on such charges.

Russian news reports said Officer Blake met the woman in South Korea and the two often posted photos together on social media.

U.S. officials said at the time that Sgt. Black was planning to return to his home in Texas when he was arrested. They said he had not informed his superiors of his trip to Russia.

Earlier in court, Sergeant Black denied making the death threats but admitted part of the theft charge. His lawyer told reporters he would appeal the verdict.

The court said that if the original sentence was upheld, Officer Black would serve his sentence in a low-security prison.

Sgt. Black is the latest American to be detained in Russia in recent years on charges that U.S. officials say are often trumped up. The high-profile detentions have heightened already strained relations between Russia and the United States, especially following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

The sentencing of Sergeant Black comes as Russia prepares to try another American, Evan Gershkovich, on espionage charges. Next Wednesday, a Russian court will hold its first closed-door hearing on Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

Gershkovich, 32, was detained by security agents more than a year ago in Yekaterinburg, Russia, about 900 miles east of Moscow. Prior to his arrest, he had worked as a journalist for several publications in Russia for more than five years.

The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government have denied the allegations against him. Designate Mr. Gershkovich As ‘Wrongly detained’ This effectively forces it to work towards securing its safe release.

Alina Lobzina Contributed reporting.

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