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15 May, 2023 20:22

Former US consulate worker charged with treason

The 62-year-old Russian citizen was arrested in Vladivostok
Former US consulate worker charged with treason

A former employee of the US diplomatic mission in the Russian far east has been arrested and charged with treason, Russian media outlets reported on Monday, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB). Robert Shonov faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

Shonov was detained during an FSB operation in Vladivostok, but it was not clear exactly when. He has been in detention at Lefortovo jail in Moscow, where he will be held for 90 days pending a court appearance that has not yet been scheduled.

Shonov, 62, has been charged with violating article 275.1 of the Russian criminal code, for alleged “confidential collaboration” with a foreign government or organization.

The US embassy in Moscow told reporters it was aware of the reports that Shonov had been arrested, but had “nothing further to share at this time.” 

Asked about Shonov’s arrest on Monday, the State Department and the White House both said they had seen the reports but would refrain from commenting until they’d had time to learn more.

It was unclear what Shonov used to do for the consulate in Vladivostok, which closed in 2020 along with another outpost in Yekaterinburg. The move was part of a series of tit-for-tat sanctions that Moscow and Washington have engaged in since 2016, when the US accused Russia of election meddling. No evidence for such interference was ever presented.