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US soldier jailed for nearly four years in Russia



A Russian court has sentenced a US soldier to three years and nine months in jail on charges of theft and threatening to kill his girlfriend, state news agencies reported.

Staff Sgt Gordon Black was sentenced by a court in Vladivostok in Russia’s far east and will serve his time in a penal colony.

Sgt Black, who was arrested in May, had pleaded not guilty to the murder threat charges but admitted he was “partially” guilty of stealing 10,000 roubles ($116; £89) from her.

He will appeal the verdict, state news agencies said.

Prosecutors had called for him to be jailed for four years and eight months, while his defence asked for him to be acquitted.

US officials said Sgt Black, 34, met his girlfriend in South Korea.

He enlisted as an infantryman in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2013. He was most recently assigned to the Eighth Army, US Forces Korea at Camp Humphreys.

The US army said Sgt Black did not request official clearance and the defence department did not authorise his travel to Russia or China, where he had travelled to first on his way back from South Korea. There is no evidence he intended to remain in Russia.

Russia is holding other Americans behind bars. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been in jail since March 2023, while former US Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020.

Alsu Kurmasheva – a Russian-American editor for US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – has been held since October and could face up to 10 years in prison on charges of spreading false information about the Russian army.

A court on Tuesday refused to release Ms Kurmasheva from jail before her trial.

All three people maintain their innocence, and the US government says the charges against them are baseless.



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