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Ukraine official says U.S. citizen Suedi Murekezi released in Ukraine-Russia prisoner swap

Murekezi was reportedly arrested in June in Kherson on charges of “inciting ethnic hatred” for protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. citizen Suedi Murekezi was reported to have been freed after Ukraine and Russia conducted another prisoner exchange, the head of the President’s Office of Ukraine said Wednesday.

"Another exchange of prisoners. We continue to return our people," Andriy Yermak said on Telegram.

Suedi Murekezi.
Suedi Murekezi.

Among those freed were 64 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, he said, before he noted that Murekezi was also freed. Russia also released the bodies of four fallen soldiers.

The U.S. State Department confirmed that a U.S. citizen had been freed; it declined to release further details "due to privacy considerations." The person has "departed Russian-controlled territory," the agency said.

Murekezi was reported to have been arrested in June in the city of Kherson, which was occupied by Russian forces at the time, The Guardian reported. He then was held by pro-Russian separatist forces in the city of Donetsk in the self-proclaimed “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” the newspaper reported.

A Russian news agency said Murekezi was detained on charges of "inciting ethnic hatred" for protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. His lawyer said he became involved in those protests "by chance."