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Russian state media say jailed U.S. soldier Gordon Black pleads "partially guilty" to theft charge

U.S. soldier arrested in Russia
American soldier arrested in Russia was accused of stealing 01:47

Moscow — A U.S. soldier held in Russia denied threatening a Russian woman with murder while also pleading "partially" guilty to theft in a court in the far eastern city of Vladivostok Monday, according to Russia's state-run media. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black was arrested in early May in Vladivostok, where he was visiting a Russian woman he met and dated while serving in South Korea.  

He is the latest U.S. citizen to be held in Russia.

The 34-year-old was detained after the woman, named by Russian media as Alexandra Vashuk, reported him to the police after an argument.

Russian media on Monday quoted Black as saying he was "partially guilty" of theft but that it was not premeditated, and that he was "not guilty" of allegedly threatening Vashuk with murder. CBS News has not been able to obtain contact details for any lawyers representing Black in Russia, and it is not possible to verify information reported by Russian state media.

Russia's state-run news outlets had said previously, in mid-May, that Black had entered a guilty plea to theft charges and was cooperating with investigators in the case.

Vashuk had accused Black of allegedly stealing some 10,000 rubles (100 euros) from her and said he had physically attacked her.

Gordon Black, a U.S. soldier detained in Russia, poses for a selfie in a file photo obtained from social media.
Gordon Black, a U.S. soldier detained in Russia, poses for a selfie in a file photo obtained from social media. Gordon Black via Facebook via Reuters

Black said she had started an argument after drinking. He said the pair met in October 2022 on the dating app Tinder in South Korea and had dated there, before Vashuk then invited him to come to Vladivostok.

He said he did not plan to take the money and intended to give it back, saying he took it because he could not access his money in Russia, as it is held in a U.S. bank.

Black was detained in Vladivostok on May 2 and been held in pre-trial detention since then. He was stationed in South Korea, Pentagon officials told CBS News, and was in the process of changing duty stations to Fort Cavazos, formerly known as Fort Hood, in the U.S. when he went to Russia on unofficial travel.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in early May that the U.S. was "aware of this case," but that he couldn't "say much about it right now."

The charges against the American soldier carry up to five years in prison. 

Friend of Evan Gershkovich discusses effort to get him home 04:34

Black has been kept in pre-trial detention since his arrest in May. Unlike U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, who's facing trial on espionage charges in Russia, the U.S. government has not declared Black to be wrongfully detained by Russian authorities. 

A court in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg announced Monday that Gershkovich's trial would begin on June 26 — behind closed doors, as is typical of espionage cases in Russia. His family, his employer The Wall Street Journal, and the Biden administration have all dismissed the charges against him as baseless.

U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan is also imprisoned in Russia, where he has remained behind bars since his arrest five years ago. He also stands accused of espionage, allegations the U.S. government and his family have rejected repeatedly as baseless.

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