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Arrested for Espionage: U.S. Consulate Ex-Staff in Russia Stokes International Outcry

Shonov was arrested for espionage, and accused of gathering info on Russia’s military, mobilization, and protest impact before the 2024 election, per the FSB.

The FSB is interrogating two U.S. diplomats, suspecting their involvement in instructing Shonov’s activities. (Photo: Google)

Robert Shonov, a former U.S. Consulate worker in Vladivostok, was arrested for espionage by Russia’s FSB. He is alleged to have collected intelligence on Russia’s actions in Ukraine for American diplomats.

According to an article published by Fox News, former U.S. Consulate employee, Robert Shonov, detained by Russia’s FSB, stands accused of espionage for gathering Ukraine-related info on behalf of U.S. diplomats.

Arrested for espionage, he’s said to have collected data on Russia’s military, regional activities, and protest impact before the 2024 election. The FSB questions two U.S. diplomats, alleging their role in instructing Shonov.

Shonov’s May arrest lacked initial details. The U.S. State Department criticized it. Charged under a new Russian law, he faces up to eight years in prison for collaborating with foreign entities against Russia’s security, a move criticized for its potential broad application to any Russian with foreign ties.

Shonov had worked at the U.S. consulate in Vladivostok for over 25 years until its closure due to the pandemic in 2020, when he was arrested for espionage.

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Afterward, he was associated with a company contracted to support the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and he was arrested for espionage again.

According to an article published by AP News, his role at the time of his arrest was reportedly limited to compiling media summaries of publicly available Russian sources, but he was arrested for espionage.

The U.S. State Department condemned Russia’s use of repressive laws against its citizens and expressed concern for those arrested for espionage.

Shonov is being held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, where American journalist Evan Gershkovich is also detained for espionage. Gershkovich, from The Wall Street Journal, was arrested on espionage charges by Russia’s security service on March 29, just like Shonov.

The U.S. has denounced Gershkovich’s arrest, claiming he is wrongfully detained and demanding his immediate release, as he was arrested for espionage. The incident has raised concerns among journalists and sparked outrage in Western countries, highlighting the ongoing issue of arrests for espionage.

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