American soldier arrested in Russia over an alleged theft will remain in custody, state media report

A US soldier arrested in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok on charges of theft has lost an appeal against his detention and will remain in custody, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Friday, citing court officials.

The soldier, identified by court officials as Gordon Black, will remain in custody until at least July 2, the report said, after the Primorsky Regional Court upheld the lower court’s ruling to remand Black in custody pending investigation and process.

Several U.S. officials said earlier this month that Black, a 34-year-old staff sergeant, was stationed in South Korea and was about to return home to Fort Cavazos in Texas. Instead, officials said Black, who is married, had traveled to Russia to see an old girlfriend. He was held in Vladivostok, a major military and commercial port in Russia’s Far East, and accused of stealing from her.

RIA Novosti, citing local police, said Black has admitted guilt and is cooperating with investigators.

Black’s arrest further complicates U.S. relations with Russia, which have grown increasingly tense as the war in Ukraine continues.

Russia is known to be holding a number of Americans in its prisons, including corporate security director Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The US government has classified both as unlawfully detained and has attempted to negotiate their release.

Others arrested include Travis Leake, a longtime Russia-based musician who was arrested last year on drug-related charges; Marc Fogel, a teacher in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison, also for drug abuse; and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana.