US-Russian woman arrested in Russia on treason charges

Unidentified woman accused of 'proactively collecting funds" to purchase equipment and supplies for the Ukrainian military

Russian and US flags fly next to the US embassy building in Moscow. AFP
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Russia's FSB security service said on Tuesday that it had arrested a Russian-American woman on allegations of treason for raising funds for the Ukrainian army.

The FSB in the central Urals city of Yekaterinburg said it had “suppressed the illegal activities” of a 33-year-old woman, a resident of Los Angeles with dual citizenship, and taken her into custody.

It said the unnamed woman had been “proactively collecting funds … which were subsequently used to purchase tactical medical items, equipment, means of destruction and ammunition for the Ukrainian armed forces”.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti posted an FSB video showing hooded officers handcuffing and escorting a woman in a white coat with a white hat pulled down over her eyes.

The FSB said she had been acting “against the security of our country” and had been supporting the Ukrainian army while in the US.

The White House declined to discuss the case in depth, citing US privacy laws.

“We've been aware of reports of the arrest of a dual US-Russia citizen and we are trying to get more information and to secure some consular access to that individual,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“I want to reiterate our very strong warnings about the danger posed to US citizens inside Russia. So if you're a US citizen, including a dual nationals residing in or travelling in Russia, you ought to leave right now.”

Treason is punishable by up to life in prison under legislation toughened since the start of the military offensive.

Several US citizens are currently imprisoned in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

He was arrested last year on espionage charges that he, his employer and the US government have rejected.

Another joint US-Russian citizen, journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, is also being held in pretrial detention.

She faces charges of failing to register as a “foreign agent” and contravening Russia's strict military censorship laws.

Former US marine Paul Whelan has been in prison in Russia since 2018, serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he wants to negotiate a prisoner exchange to swap Russians imprisoned abroad for US citizens detained in Russia.

Updated: February 20, 2024, 10:34 PM