Russia reportedly detains 33-year-old US-Russian dual citizen on suspicion of treason

BySebastian Shukla, Nathan Hodge and Anna Chernova, CNN, CNNWire
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Russia detains Los Angeles woman on suspicion of treason
Russian authorities in the city of Yekaterinburg have reportedly detained a Los Angeles woman on suspicion of treason.

LOS ANGELES -- A US-Russian dual citizen has been arrested in Russia on charges of treason for allegedly collecting funds for Ukrainian organizations and openly supporting Kyiv.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said the unnamed 33-year-old woman, who lived in Los Angeles, was detained in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg for "providing financial assistance to a foreign state in activities directed against" Russian security. Yekaterinburg is about 1,100 miles east of Moscow.

"Since February 2022, she has proactively collected funds in the interests of one of the Ukrainian organizations, which were subsequently used to purchase tactical medicine, equipment, weapons and ammunition by the Ukrainian Armed Forces," the FSB said in a statement released Tuesday.

It also accused the woman of taking part in "public actions in support of the Kyiv regime" while in the US.

"Operational search activities and investigative actions continue. The court chose a preventive measure in the form of detention for the accused," the statement added.

CNN has contacted the US Embassy in Moscow and the US State Department for comment.

Moscow has detained several US citizens in recent years, some of whom have been exchanged for Russian prisoners held in Western countries.

The FSB arrested American journalist Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, in Yekaterinburg in March last year on charges of espionage, which he, his employer and the US government have strenuously denied.

The Moscow City Court on Tuesday rejected Gershkovich's lawyers appeal and has upheld his pretrial detention until March 30.

"Having considered the appeal against the decision of the Lefortovo District Court of Moscow to extend the period of detention in relation to Evan Gershkovich, left the court decision unchanged and the appeal was not satisfied," the court said.

If convicted, Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently suggested "an agreement can be reached" with the US to exchange Gershkovich for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany for murdering a former Chechen fighter in Berlin in 2019.

RELATED: Putin hints at possible prisoner swap for detained NJ native, WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich

"Listen, I'll tell you: sitting in one country, a country that is an ally of the United States, is a man who, for patriotic reasons, eliminated a bandit in one of the European capitals," Putin said in an interview earlier this month with the right-wing American pundit Tucker Carlson.

"We have no taboo about solving this problem. We are ready to solve it, but there are certain conditions that are being discussed through special services channels between the intelligence services. I think an agreement can be reached," he told the former Fox News host.

In December 2022, Russia released WNBA star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner, who had for years played in the off-season for a Russian women's basketball team, had been detained in February of that year on drug smuggling charges at an airport in the Moscow region.

Former US Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison in June 2020 after being convicted on espionage charges that he vehemently denies.

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