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US soldier admits guilt in theft case, says Russia

An American soldier accused of stealing from his girlfriend during an unauthorized trip to Russia has pleaded guilty to theft, Russian media reported Wednesday.

Sergeant Gordon Black was arrested and remanded in custody in the eastern city of Vladivostok earlier this month.

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

Separately, the Interior Ministry of Primorye Territory told the private Interfax news agency that 34-year-old Black had confessed to his crime.

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

Black was stationed in South Korea and was 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 had a romantic relationship, 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 she called Aleksandra Vashchuk. “I think she convinced him to come there,” Jones said in a video interview from her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “He wanted to see her one last time before he went home, so he went there.”

Black’s wife, Megan Black, also called on Russian authorities to release him in a statement through her lawyer. Although she is in the process of divorcing him, Brett Pritchard said securing Black’s freedom would provide comfort to Black’s six-year-old daughter.

Black met the 32-year-old Russian woman while she was working in South Korea, according to a series of TikTok videos that surfaced after his arrest. The woman found by Radio Free Europe 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 permission to visit Russia.

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

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