An American soldier was arrested in Russia and accused of stealing, US officials say

An American soldier was arrested in Russia and accused of stealing, US officials say

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FILE – A view of the bridge connecting the Russky Island and Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east, is seen on Aug. 26, 2023. An American soldier has been arrested in Russia and accused of stealing. That’s according to two U.S. officials who spoke to The Associated Press. The soldier, who is not being identified, was stationed in South Korea and was in the process of returning home to the United States. Instead, he traveled to Russia. According to the officials, the soldier was arrested late last week in Vladivostok. It was unclear Monday, May 6, 2024, if the soldier is considered absent without leave, or AWOL. (AP Photo/Alexander Khitrov)

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American soldier has been arrested in Russia and accused of stealing, according to two U.S. officials.

The soldier, who is not being identified, was stationed in South Korea and was in the process of returning home to the United States. Instead, officials said he traveled to Russia.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel details.

Cynthia Smith, Army spokeswoman, confirmed that a soldier was detained on Thursday in Vladivostok, a major military and commercial Pacific port, on charges of criminal misconduct. She said Russia notified the U.S. and the Army told the soldier’s family.

“The U.S. Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the soldier in Russia,” Smith said.

It was unclear Monday if the soldier is considered absent without leave, or AWOL.

The arrest comes less than a year after American soldier Travis King sprinted into North Korea across the heavily fortified border between the Koreas. North Korea later announced that it would expel King, who was returned to the U.S. He was eventually charged with desertion.

Russia is known to be holding a number of Americans in its jails, including corporate security executive Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, The U.S. government has designated both as wrongfully detained and has been trying to negotiate for 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.

The soldier’s arrest in Russia was first reported by NBC News.

___ Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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