Factbox-Who are the Americans being detained in Russia?
Factbox-Who are the Americans being detained in Russia?
Factbox-Who are the Americans being detained in Russia?
by DZRH News18 June 2024
FILE PHOTO: Russian-American journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Alsu Kurmasheva, who is in custody after she was accused of violating Russia's law on foreign agents, attends a court hearing in Kazan, Russia May 31, 2024. REUTERS/Alexey Nasyrov/File photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia is holding at least a dozen American citizens in jail, including journalists and active duty soldiers.

Below are details about the best known Americans currently in detention, why Russia is holding them and what the United States is doing to get them back.


A Wall Street Journal reporter accredited by Russia to work there, Gershkovich was arrested in March 2023 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison. The FSB security service says he was collecting secret information about Uralvagonzavod, a company that manufactures battle tanks.


Gershkovich and his newspaper strongly reject the charges and the U.S. government has designated him as wrongfully detained, meaning it must seek ways to get Gershkovich released.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month Washington was taking "vigorous steps" to secure Gershkovich's release, but that ongoing talks needed to be conducted away from the media.

Gershkovich, 32, has been held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison since his arrest, which has been extended multiple times. His trial is due to take place behind closed doors, starting on June 26 in Yekaterinburg.



A former U.S. marine holding U.S., British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, Whelan was arrested in 2018 and subsequently handed a 16-year sentence for espionage. He denied the charges.

At the time of his arrest, Whelan was head of global security for a Michigan-based car parts supplier. Russian investigators said he was a spy for military intelligence and had been caught red-handed with a computer flash drive containing classified information.

Whelan, 54, did not figure in a U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange in December 2022 involving U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, despite speculation that he would be swapped. Griner was traded for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

The U.S. has designated Whelan as wrongfully detained.



A dual citizen of the U.S. and Russia, Kurmasheva is a 47-year-old Prague-based reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a U.S. government-funded media outlet designated by Russia as a foreign agent.

She was arrested in the Russian city of Kazan in October while visiting her elderly mother. Authorities initially charged her with failing to register as a foreign agent, but later also charged her with spreading "fakes" about the Russian army, which risks up to 15 years in jail.

Kurmasheva's husband has petitioned the U.S. to designate her as wrongfully detained.



An active duty U.S. staff sergeant based in South Korea, Black was detained on May 2 in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East on suspicion of stealing 10,000 roubles ($113) from his Russian girlfriend. He was also subsequently charged with threatening to kill her by grabbing her by the neck during a quarrel.

The Pentagon said Black had broken army rules by travelling to Russia without authorisation, having passed through China.

In court on Monday, Black denied threatening to kill his girlfriend, Alexandra Vashchuk, but admitted he was "partially" guilty of the theft charge, Russian state media said. He is expected to make a fuller statement at the next session on Wednesday.



A former U.S. marine, Gilman was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison in October 2022 for attacking a police officer on a train while he was drunk.

Gilman, who his lawyers said had come to Russia to study, told the court he did not remember the incident but had "apologised to Russia" and to the officer.



A dual U.S.-Russian national, Karelina was detained on treason charges in February while visiting family in Yekaterinburg and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The FSB security service has accused the Los Angeles resident of collecting funds for a Ukrainian organisation whose ultimate beneficiary was Ukraine's army. Her family said she donated about $50 to a New York-based non-profit that donates non-military aid to Ukraine.


A former schoolteacher who was previously employed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Fogel is serving a 14-year sentence for drug smuggling after he was detained in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in August 2021 with 17 grams of marijuana - which he said he uses for medical reasons - in his luggage.


At the time of his arrest, Fogel, who is in his early 60s, worked at the now-shuttered Anglo-American School in Moscow.


A U.S. citizen adopted from Russia as a child, Woodland was detained in January on drug possession charges which can carry up to 20 years in prison.

A Facebook account in his name indicated he had been working as an English teacher and lived outside Moscow. A date has not yet been set for his trial.



Currently serving a 3-1/2-year sentence for bribery, Spector, who was born in Russia and then moved to the United States, was charged last August with espionage.

Before his 2021 arrest, he served as chairman of the board of Medpolymerprom Group, a company specialising in cancer-curing drugs, state media said. Spector had pleaded guilty to helping bribe an assistant to an ex-Russian deputy prime minister.


(Reporting by Lucy Papachristou and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Ros Russell)

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