May 16 (UPI) — Russia said that it has detained and charged a former employee of the U.S. embassy in Vladivostok with espionage.
TASS, the Kremlin’s state-run news outlet, said Monday that it had detained Robert Shonov and charged him with “collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state or international or foreign organization.”
Shonov was taken to Moscow’s Lefortovo detention and faces up to eight years in prison. The U.S. State Department said that it was aware of the reports but did not have further comment.
Shonov’s arrest comes after Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, in late March in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, located more than 1,000 miles east of Moscow.
He was formally charged with espionage on accusations of spying on Russia for the United States.
Gershkovich, who was accredited to work in Russia as a reporter, is believed to be the first American journalist to be accused of spying on the Kremlin since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Reporters Without Borders said at the time of his arrest that Gershkovich was investigating the Wagner military company, which has troops on the ground fighting in the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
Last month , the State Department declared Gershkovich as “wrongly detained.”
“Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against truth,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said.
According to a report released by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, there are 65 Americans wrongly detained worldwide as of late September.
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