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US soldier admits guilt in theft case, Russia says

A US soldier accused of robbing his girlfriend during an unauthorized trip to Russia has pleaded guilty to theft, Russian media reported Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black was arrested earlier this month in Vladivostok, in the east of the country, and placed in pre-trial detention.

He has now “admitted his guilt and is cooperating with the investigation,” the official Tass news agency reported on Wednesday, citing local law enforcement.

Separately, the Primorsky Territory’s Interior Ministry told the private Interfax news agency that Black, 34, had confessed to his crime.

Black was charged with “theft causing substantial damage.” Tass reported that he spoke to authorities in English through an interpreter.

Black was stationed in South Korea and scheduled to travel to a U.S. Army base in Texas when he made an unscheduled visit to Russia to visit a woman with whom he was romantically involved, U.S. officials said shortly after his arrest.

Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told NBC News last week that her son was “lured” to Russia by the woman, whom she named Aleksandra Vashchuk. “I think she convinced him to come over there,” Jones said in a video interview from his home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “He wanted to see her one last time before going home, so he went.”

Black’s wife, Megan Black, also called on Russian authorities to release him through a statement from her lawyer. Even though she is going through a divorce, Brett Pritchard said securing Black’s freedom would bring comfort to Black’s six-year-old daughter.

Black met the 32-year-old Russian while she was working in South Korea, as revealed in a series of TikTok videos that emerged after her arrest. Found by Radio Free Europe, the woman said in the videos that she had lived in South Korea for five years.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said earlier this month that Black, who enlisted as an infantryman in 2008 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not have clearance to go to Russia.

Singh also said the military was “investigating” whether Russian intelligence had targeted Black.

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News Source : www.nbcnews.com

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