Mother of US soldier detained in Russia says he was visiting girlfriend before arrest

Gordon Black was detained in Russia for alleged criminal misconduct on May 2.

ByLeah Sarnoff and Mark Guarino ABCNews logo
Tuesday, May 7, 2024
Mother of US soldier detained in Russia says he was visiting girlfriend before arrest
Mother of US soldier detained in Russia says he was visiting girlfriend before arrest

The mother of Gordon Black, a 35-year-old United States Army soldier who was detained in Russia on charges of criminal misconduct last week, revealed he was visiting his girlfriend at the time of his arrest in Vladivostok.

In a new interview with "Good Morning America," Melody Jones explained that her son, Black, was on a two-week leave from his station in South Korea when he traveled to Russia to visit his girlfriend.

"I told him I was really uncomfortable," Jones said, recalling a conversation with her son before his trip. "I had a bad feeling about him going, but he went anyway."

Two U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News on Monday that Black left South Korea of his own volition and was not granted any kind of permission to travel to Russia.

Vladivostok is a port city in southeast Russia near the country's borders with North Korea and China.

Upon arrival in Russia, Jones said Black told her he was questioned by authorities at the airport for "nine hours."

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"He said he was when he got off the plane, that he was pulled to the back in this room for nine hours and questioned why he was there," Jones said.

Jones said she did not know if her son had a visa to visit Russia.

Jones was critical of her son's girlfriend, whom she says he met at a club in South Korea over a year ago. Jones claims her son told her the girlfriend was deported to Russia from South Korea after she and Black allegedly got into a dispute in the fall of 2023.

"I knew something was going to happen," Jones said.

On Monday, Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith told ABC News, "The Russian Federation notified the U.S. Department of State of the criminal detention in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations."

"The Army notified his family and the U.S. Department of State is providing appropriate consular support to the soldier in Russia," Smith said.

Jones said she is worried for her son, saying, "I cry at night. I'm hoping he's not being tortured or hurt."

"It's just hard being a mom and being in that situation," Jones said. "Not being able to touch him, you know? Hug him and tell him it will be OK."

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia remain high amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

A State Department official confirmed to ABC News that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is seeking to gain consular access to the detained soldier but has not yet been allowed to meet with him The official also said the soldier is being held in pretrial detention through July 1, but it's likely that will be extended.

The White House is aware of the report about a U.S. soldier being detained in Russia, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said during a media briefing Monday afternoon.

There have been several U.S. citizens detained in Russia in recent years, including Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned since 2018; Marine Trevor Reed, who was part of a prisoner swap in 2022,WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was part of a different prisoner swap in December 2022; and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in 2023 andremains in custody in Russia.