US denounces arrest of former consulate employee in Russia | Prison News


Robert Shonov is being held for allegedly cooperating ‘on a confidential foundation’ with a overseas organisation.

America has “strongly” condemned the detention of a former consulate worker who has been arrested in Russia, in response to an area media report.

In a statement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the US Division of State dismissed the allegations in opposition to Robert Shonov, a Russian nationwide who labored for greater than 25 years within the now-shuttered US consulate in Vladivostok on Russia’s east coast.

“The allegations in opposition to Mr Shonov are wholly with out benefit,” stated spokesperson Matthew Miller.

The Russian state media outlet TASS reported on Monday that Shonov had been arrested in Vladivostok and transferred to Moscow’s Lefortovo jail, the identical detention centre the place two US residents have been held on costs of espionage.

Citing legislation enforcement sources, TASS defined that Shonov had been interrogated following his arrest. He was finally charged with cooperating “on a confidential foundation with a overseas state, [or] worldwide or overseas organisation”.

Miller blasted that cost in Tuesday’s assertion.

The truth that Shonov was “being focused beneath the ‘confidential cooperation’ statute highlights the Russian Federation’s blatant use of more and more repressive legal guidelines in opposition to its personal residents,” Miller wrote.

He defined that Russia had issued an order in April 2021 limiting native residents from being employed by the US diplomatic corps. Since then, Shonov had labored for a corporation “contracted to offer companies to US Embassy in Moscow in strict compliance with Russia’s legal guidelines and laws”.

Miller sought to downplay any position Shonov might need had in embassy affairs. “Mr Shonov’s solely position on the time of his arrest was to compile media summaries of press objects from publicly out there Russian media sources,” he stated.

Nonetheless, members of the Russian authorities applauded Shonov’s arrest in state media stories.

“It’s clear that unacceptable actions by unfriendly states should not slowing down however moderately are going up,” Russian Deputy International Minister Sergei Ryabkov instructed TASS.

Tuesday’s assertion is the newest indication of heightened tensions between Russia and the US, notably within the wake of the previous’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, launched in February 2022.

Earlier this yr, the US denounced the detention of US citizen and Wall Avenue Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, with the State Division declaring he had been “wrongfully detained” by Russian authorities on charges of espionage.

“Journalism will not be against the law. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of unbiased voices in Russia, and its ongoing battle in opposition to the reality,” State Division spokesperson Vedant Patel stated in a press release on April 10.

Gershkovich himself has denied the fees, which embrace allegations that he was amassing state secrets and techniques about Russia’s military-industrial complicated.

The US has additionally urged Russia to free one other US citizen, former marine Paul Whelan, who was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years for espionage.

Whelan likewise has rejected the fees in opposition to him: In courtroom, he appeared within the defendant’s field carrying an indication that learn, “Sham trial!”

Each Whelan and Gershkovich have hung out in Lefortovo jail, a high-security detention facility with a historical past stretching again to tsarist occasions. Gershkovich is at the moment jailed there, and Whelan spent 20 months within the facility awaiting trial.

Final month, US envoy to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield referred to as for the discharge of each males, saying they had been getting used as “political bargaining chips“.

“Utilizing individuals as pawns is a technique of weak spot. These should not the actions of a accountable nation. And whereas Russia performs political video games, actual individuals undergo,” Thomas-Greenfield stated.

In December, Russia and the US negotiated a prisoner swap that noticed the discharge of imprisoned basketball player Brittney Griner in change for Viktor Bout, a Russian former arms supplier serving a 25-year sentence within the US.

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