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Russia detains US dual national for treason, reports say

February 20, 2024

The woman was arrested in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on allegations of helping finance the Ukrainian military. Her arrest could put additional pressure on Joe Biden to conduct a prisoner swap with Russia.

The headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow
The Russian FSB said it had detained the 33-year-old dual national Image: Maxim Shemetov/File Photo/REUTERS

Russian authorities in the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg have arrested a US-Russian dual national on treason charges, the state-owned TASS media outlet said Tuesday.

What Russia said about the arrest

"The Federal Security Service (FSB) in Yekaterinburg suppressed the illegal activities of a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, who has dual citizenship of Russia and the United States," TASS reported. 

The news agency did not provide information regarding the name of the woman, but said she was "involved in providing financial assistance to a foreign state."

The crime of treason carries a hefty punishment of up to 20 years in jail in Russia. TASS posted video footage of a woman with a white hat pulled over her eyes being handcuffed.

She had reportedly been collecting money for a Ukrainian organization since February 2022, which was in turn helping the Ukrainian military. Russia first launched its invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special operation," on February 24, 2022.   

Russia accuses US reporter of spying

US nationals arrested in Russia

Russia has arrested other US nationals, such as Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich last year.  

The latest arrest of the woman in Yekaterinburg could put more pressure on US President Joe Biden's administration to strike a prisoner deal with Russia.   

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that "an agreement can be reached" regarding Gershkovich's release. 

In December 2022, Russia exchanged American basketball player Brittney Griner for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap with the US. 

wd/nm (Reuters, AFP)