Staff Sgt. Gordon Black Reportedly Pleads Guilty to Theft While Being Held by Russia

May 17, 2024
Pfc. Gordon Black

A U.S. soldier being held in Russia pleaded guilty to theft charges Thursday, two weeks after he was detained in the country on suspicion of stealing money from a Russian woman he was in a relationship with, according to several state media outlets.

Russian authorities arrested Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, in Vladivostok, a port city in the country, earlier this month and charged him with theft. Black traveled from South Korea to China and finally Russia, where he remains in custody.

Black was assigned to the Eighth Army at Camp Humphreys, South Korea. He went on leave, supposed to be headed to an Army base in Texas, when he flew to Russia to meet Aleksandra Vashchuk, his girlfriend.

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“He is cooperating; he admitted [guilt],” the RIA news agency, a Russian-backed media site, reported Thursday, citing an official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Primorsky Territory, near where Black is being held.

Black, an infantryman, is married to an American woman and the two are in the process of divorcing, previously reported. Prior to his detainment, he had been seeing Vashchuk for at least a year, according to the pair’s social media posts.

Russian state media previously reported that Black appealed his two-month pretrial detention. Now, it appears that he has pleaded guilty to the theft charge, though cannot independently confirm RIA’s account.

“Please do not torture him [or] hurt him,” Black’s mother, Melody Jones, said when asked earlier about her message to Russian authorities, according to CBS News Thursday.

Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said last week there was not much he could say about the case, citing “privacy rules,” though he confirmed that the office was aware of a U.S. citizen being detained in Russia.

“Whenever a U.S. citizen is detained abroad, consular officers seek to aid him with all appropriate assistance, and we are doing so in this case,” Miller said. asked the State Department last week whether Black’s detention would further complicate the release of two other Americans in Russian custody: Paul Whelan, a former Marine, and Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

“The United States has a continuous effort to secure the release of Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich,” a spokesperson said. “We will pursue every avenue until we are able to bring them home.”

Related: Still Held by Russia, US Soldier Gordon Black Files Appeal over Confinement Ahead of Trial

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