The arrest of American YouTuber and columnist, Gonzalo Lira, in Ukraine at the beginning of May has raised a number of questions about the US government’s response. According to a press release from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Lira was taken into custody for “publicly justifying” the Russian invasion.
The statement also noted that Lira is a citizen of one of the Latin American countries, though it omitted his status as a California-born U.S. citizen.
As an outspoken critic of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Lira had written financial columns for Business Insider and ZeroHedge. His Twitter account reveals opinions that largely align with those on the American right.
The SBU claimed to have confiscated “mobile phones and a computer with evidence of illegal activity” from his apartment but no such evidence was made public.
Lira has been charged under sections 2 and 3 of Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s criminal code, which prohibits any material supporting Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
This law applies to everyone including The New York Times and Wired Magazine, yet so far no one other than Lira has been arrested for violating it. In fact, even though Ukrainian officials have often alleged that Russia armed and financed conflicts in Donbas region resulting in 10,000 deaths between 2014-2020, former NATO official who investigated weapons shipments found there were “no deliveries from Russia” but instead most arms were smuggled by defecting Ukrainian soldiers – who could’ve been charged under this same Article too if they didn’t escape first!
If convicted on both charges against him, Lira may face up to 13 years in prison.
Mathew Miller, the spokesman for State Department, said they’re aware of the situation, but refused comment further when asked if they’re working on freeing him.