Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Russia Detains Two US Citizens, Including American Soldier

Published: May 13, 2024
The Kremlin is seen next to the partially frozen Moskva river in Moscow, Russia January 26, 2024. (Image: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo)

On May 7 (Tuesday), Russian authorities said they had detained two U.S. nationals, including a  U.S. soldier on vacation while deployed to South Korea, in separate criminal cases.

The regional office of the Interior Ministry said in a statement the soldier was detained on Monday on charges of criminal misconduct, and was arrested on theft charges by a court in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East. 

Another man, also an American citizen, was detained in Moscow for alleged disorderly conduct and will be held for 10 days. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed the case had no political element, and no allegations of espionage were involved.

TASS, a Russian state media agency, cited the ministry’s Vladivostok branch as saying that “as far as we understand, this is a purely everyday crime.”

In recent years criminal cases against Americans in Russia have assumed diplomatic significance, especially as tensions between the two countries rise owing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions against the Kremlin. 

This includes a drug case against basketball star Brittney Griner, who was freed last year in a prisoner swap with the U.S. Another notorious case is that regarding Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter accused of espionage.

According to the RIA state news agency, the court identified the soldier as Gordon Black and said he would be detained at least until July 2.A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldier had been based in South Korea.

According to the Russian interior ministry, Black had traveled to Vladivostok to visit a 32-year-old woman he had met in South Korea. The two had an argument, and the woman filed a police reporting accusing him of stealing money. 

Gordon Black, a U.S. serviceman detained in Russia, poses for a selfie in this picture obtained from social media, in an unspecified location, released on February, 2023. (Image: Gordon Black Via Facebook/via REUTERS)

Black was arrested in a local hotel, after allegedly buying a plane ticket to return to the U.S.

The American detained in Moscow, identified as William Russell Nycum, was allegedly found naked in public, after drinking alcohol and “expressed obvious disrespect to society, citizens and public order,” according to a Tuesday statement made by a Moscow court.

Nycum would remain in custody for 10 days for “petty hooliganism,” the court said. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Moscow was contacted by Reuters about the two cases of detention. “We are aware of reports of U.S. citizens being arrested inside of Russia…Consular officers from the embassy always seek to aid citizens with appropriate assistance but due to privacy concerns we aren’t able to comment further,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.