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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Former US embassy employee is being held in Moscow, according to Russia’s state news agency

An entrance to the Lefortovo Prison in Moscow. Tass, the Russian state news agency, said a former U.S. Embassy employee identified as Robert Shonov was being held there.

By Daniel Victor

Robert Shonov, identified as a former employee of the U.S. Embassy in Russia, has been arrested in the Russian city of Vladivostok and charged with conspiracy, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesperson, told reporters at a briefing on Monday that he had seen the report but that “I don’t have anything additional to offer at this time.”

Tass, quoting an anonymous law enforcement official, said that Shonov was accused of “collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state or international or foreign organization.” He has been taken to Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, Tass reported, and no court date has been set.

Being held in isolation is commonplace at Lefortovo, a notorious high-security prison where inmates include Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal correspondent who was accused of espionage in March, charges that his employer and American officials have strongly denied. It is also where Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who is serving a 16-year sentence on what the United States has said are fabricated charges of espionage, was held for 20 months until his trial in 2020. He is now at a forced labor camp several hundred miles away.

In the Soviet era, the KGB kept Soviet dissidents at the prison, and it has been used more recently to isolate opponents of the Kremlin.

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