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Russia accuses U.S. citizen of trying to kidnap his 4-year-old son out of the country

The man wanted to “live with the child outside of Russia,” Russia’s Investigative Committee Department in Kaliningrad region said.

A U.S. citizen has been accused of trying to kidnap his 4-year-old son and illegally cross a Russian border with him, prosecutors in the Russian region of Kaliningrad said Thursday.

The 35-year-old man, whose name was not released, wanted to “live with the child outside of Russia, without obtaining the consent of the baby’s mother,” Russia’s Investigative Committee Department in the region said in a statement on Telegram.

A criminal case has been launched against the man, who arrived in the Kaliningrad region on July 27 “to meet his 4-year-old son,” who is “a citizen of the Russian Federation," the statement added. No charges have been filed.

“Under the pretext of spending time together,” the man took his son in a car to the Mamonovsky Urban District near the Polish border before he “made an attempt to illegally cross the state border through a wooded and swampy area,” the statement said.

Officers stopped the man at the border in Kaliningrad, a semi-exclave on the Baltic Sea, in Russia's westernmost region, the statement said.

At the time, a district court in the eastern city of Kaliningrad also “was considering a civil case to determine the child’s place of residence,” the region said.

“In the near future, the defendant will be interrogated by an investigator of the regional department of the Russian Investigative Committee, and charges will be brought against him,” it said.

No further details about the man were included in the statement, and it was unclear whether he had been detained.

Investigators or the judge could conclude there is not enough evidence, and the case could be dropped.

The State Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In recent years, the Russian government has directly targeted Americans for what the U.S. says are politically motivated arrests. 

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich remains in jail on espionage charges after a court in Moscow extended his pretrial detention by three months in late August.

Gershkovich, 32, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in late March on a reporting trip. He and the Journal have denied the allegations, and the U.S. government has declared that he was wrongfully detained.

Paul Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive, has also been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 in a high-profile espionage case.

And in December, the U.S. negotiated the release of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner, who played basketball in Russia during the WNBA’s offseason, was arrested for having vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty but said she had no criminal intent.