Russia Arrests Dual US Citizen Accused of Treason

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to declare the annexation of the Russian-controlled territories of four Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, after holding what Russian authorities called referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine that were condemned by Kyiv and governments worldwide, in the Georgievsky Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, September 30, 2022. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS
February 20, 2024

Russia's Federal Security Service said on Tuesday it had detained a 33-year-old woman with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship on suspicion of treason for raising funds for Ukraine's armed forces.

The Los Angeles resident had been collecting funds for a Ukrainian organization whose ultimate beneficiary was the Ukrainian army, the FSB said in a statement. It said it had opened a treason case against the woman, who was not named.

The FSB, Russia's security agency that succeeded the Soviet-era KGB, said in its statement that it had "suppressed the illegal activities of a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, who has dual citizenship of Russia and the United States of America, involved in providing financial assistance to a foreign state in activities directed against the security of our country".

"Since February 2022, she has been proactively collecting funds in the interests of one of the Ukrainian organizations, which were subsequently used to purchase tactical medicine items, equipment, weapons, and ammunition by the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Moscow said, "We are aware of the reports, however due to privacy considerations we have nothing further to convey at this moment."

The unidentified woman joins Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan as American citizens in Russian custody. Both of the two men have faced espionage charges, which they, along with the U.S. government, deny. Gershkovich has been held for almost a year awaiting his trial, while Whelan was arrested in 2018 and convicted in 2020.

The news of the arrest comes days after Alexei Navalny, a longtime opponent of President Vladimir Putin, died in prison.