Over 60 Russians 'Held Hostage' in US, Arrested on False Charges, Deputy Foreign Minister Says
Published: Dec 20, 2022 07:07 PM
The United States is practically holding over 60 Russians hostage by arresting people on false charges and sentencing them to dozens of years in prison, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"The US authorities have been literally hunting Russians across the globe especially in countries that have bilateral treaties on extradition with the US, seeking the arrest of our citizens on false charges... The overall number of Russian citizens basically held hostage exceeds 60," the deputy minister said.

Vershinin said that US courts sentence Russians to dozens of years in prison, with the tendency becoming even stronger under the current US administration amid rising political tensions between the two countries.

The senior Russian diplomat also urged Russian people to weigh up the risks they could face when traveling to unfriendly countries if there is even the "slightest suspicion" that they could be of specific interest to US secret services and law enforcement as Russians are presumed guilty in this country.

Russia's foreign ministry, embassy in Washington, general consulates in New York and Houston will continue to provide all possible help to Russians who are in trouble and seek their return home, Vershinin added, noting that Moscow would decisively respond to all hostile actions by the US authorities.

Earlier in the month, the US and Russia exchanged imprisoned US basketball player Brittney Griner and Russian businessman Viktor Bout in a one-for-one prisoner swap. Bout was serving a 25-year sentence in the US on arms dealing charges. Griner was sentenced earlier this year to nine years in prison in Russia for illegally bringing cannabis oil into the country.