US Army soldier detained in Russia remains in pretrial detention facility, Pentagon officials say

May 8, 2024 by No Comments

Pentagon officials said on Tuesday that a U.S. Army soldier detained in Russia last Thursday is currently housed in a pretrial detention facility and will remain there until his next hearing, though the date of that hearing is not immediately known. Sabrina Singh told reporters during a press briefing that Staff Sgt. Gordon Black enlisted in the Army as an infantryman in 2008, and most recently, he was assigned to the Eighth Army U.S. Forces Korea at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of South Korea.”On April 10, Black out-processed from Eighth Army and signed out on permanent change of station, to leave en route to Texas,” Singh said. “However, instead of returning to the U.S., Black flew from Korea through China, and then to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons.”She added that Black is currently in a pretrial detention facility, where it was her understanding he will remain until his next hearing.The Army opened an administrative investigation to determine the facts and circumstances around his travel, Singh noted, and part of the investigation will involve looking into consequences for his actions.”But, official or any leave to Russia is strictly prohibited, and that’s pursuant to the DoD [Department of Defense] foreign clearance guide, which, of course, is also informed by the State Department guidelines,” Singh said, adding that she believed the status was set to Category Four, which does not allow travel to Russia.On Tuesday, Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” (GMA) that she believed her son was “set up” by his girlfriend.She told “GMA” her son met a Russian woman when she was tending bar near his Army base in South Korea, and she was later deported back to Russia.”I knew something was going to happen,” Jones told “GMA.” “I felt like he was being set up by her.”Jones described her son’s relationship with the Russian woman as “volatile,” and even suspected the longtime girlfriend might be a spy. She said she told her son not to travel to Russia when he was supposed to be returning home to the U.S. while on leave. “Did she cause the argument? Did she start the fight to get him arrested?” Jones asked. The charges Black faces involve beating a woman and stealing money from her, according to “GMA,” which cited Russian television reports. Black deployed to Iraq from Oct. 2009 through Sept. 2010, and to Afghanistan from June 2013 until March 2014, Cynthia Smith said. Smith said that Black, an infantry soldier, did not request official clearance and did not receive authorization to go to those countries. “There is no evidence Black intended to remain in Russia after his PCS leave period ended,” Smith said.The State Department strongly advises U.S. citizens and advises those already there to leave.Several other Americans, along with Black, remain detained in Russia. William Nycum, an English instructor in Russia on a six-month tourist visa, was found in a Moscow children’s library Friday after breaking a window to gain entry, the Associated Press reported. Russian newspaper Izvestia says there is CCTV footage capturing Nycum partially naked breaking into the children’s library, according to British publication He was sentenced to 10 days in jail.Corporate security executive Paul Whelan, who was convicted of espionage, and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in March 2023 on espionage charges, are two Americans held by Russia. The U.S. government has designated both as wrongfully detained and has been trying to negotiate their release.Others detained include Travis Leake, a musician who had been living in Russia for years and was arrested last year on drug-related charges; Marc Fogel, a teacher in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison, also on drug charges; and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana. Digital’s Pilar Arias and