Political News

US citizen detained in Belarus is released, Pompeo says

Posted October 28, 2020 8:44 a.m. EDT

— Vitali Shkliarov, an American who was detained in Belarus for three months, has been released and has returned to the US.

Shkliarov, who is a dual citizen, had traveled to Belarus this summer to visit his family and friends. He was charged with working with an opposition blogger and helping him organize illegal rallies, but his wife has said he did not work for that campaign. Before being detained, he had been critical of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Shkliarov arrived back in Washington, DC, Tuesday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced.

Shkliarov is a political consultant who worked on the political campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. His wife, Heather Shkliarov, is a US diplomat who told reporters last month that his health was in "immediate danger" when he started to develop symptoms of Covid-19 while he was in jail.

"After three months of wrongful detention and house arrest, Mr. Shkliarov has been reunited with his family and has arrived in the United States," Pompeo said in a statement to CNN.

"As the President and I have made clear, we will not tolerate foreign governments wrongfully detaining US citizens," Pompeo said.

The top US diplomat spoke with Lukashenko on Saturday to call for Shkliarov's "full release and immediate departure from Belarus," a State Department spokesperson said Saturday. This was the primary purpose of that call, a source familiar with the matter said.

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