Russia's Latest Prisoner: US Soldier Gordon Black

He was sentenced to nearly 4 years in penal colony for theft, murder threat
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2024 6:24 AM CDT
Russia's Latest Prisoner: US Soldier Gordon Black
US Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black sits in a glass cage in a courtroom in Vladivostok, Russia, on June 6.   (AP Photo, File)

A US Army soldier heard his fate Wednesday as a Russian court in Vladivostok handed down a conviction against Staff Sgt. Gordon Black for theft and making murderous threats, sentencing him to three years and nine months in prison, reports the BBC. Black had pleaded not guilty to threatening to kill his girlfriend, whom US officials say the 34-year-old soldier had met in South Korea, but conceded he was "partially" guilty of swiping about $120 from her.

Russian prosecutors had sought a four-year, eight-month sentence. Black will serve out the stint he received in a penal colony. The soldier was reportedly on leave and on his way to his home base in Texas from South Korea—except he decided to take a detour to Russia on his way back. "Instead of returning to the continental United States, Black flew from Incheon, Republic of Korea, through China to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons," a US Army spokesperson says, per the AP.

The US Army said last month that Black hadn't received official clearance to travel to Russia, and the AP notes he likely wouldn't have received such clearance if he'd asked due to the war in Ukraine. After the verdict, the woman said to be the girlfriend of Black called the sentence "quite humane" and claimed that Black was "violent and unable to control himself."

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The Independent reports Black is married with a child, though the outlet also notes that he'd filed for divorce. State agencies say that Black will appeal his conviction. Reuters notes that at least a dozen other Americans—including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan—are currently being detained in Russia. (More Russia stories.)

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