The State Department has confirmed that American citizen Gonzalo Lira is being held in a Ukrainian prison over charges related to his speech and views on the war in Ukraine.
Lira is a popular YouTuber and journalist who was arrested by the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) in May for creating content that was critical of the Ukrainian government and explaining how the Russia-Ukraine war was provoked. He was charged over claims that he “justified the Russian invasion.”
Lira, who is also a citizen of Chile, reappeared on social media in July when he posted a video and Twitter thread saying he was released on bail and was attempting to cross the border into Hungary. He alleged that he was tortured while in a Ukrainian prison and said if he was not heard from again, it meant he was captured by Ukrainian authorities.
“We are aware of the detention of Mr. Lira in Ukraine. We take our role in assisting US citizens abroad seriously and are providing all appropriate assistance,” a State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News on Tuesday.
“We are monitoring the situation but have no further comment at this time. We reiterate our message that US citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict,” the spokesperson added.
The Breitbart report noted that the confirmation of a US citizen being held in Ukraine for his speech comes as President Biden is looking for an additional $24 billion in spending on the proxy war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is currently in the US and is expected to visit the White House and Capitol Hill on Thursday to make the pitch for more aid.
During his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden described the funding of the proxy war in Ukraine as “not only an investment in Ukraine’s future, but in the future of every country that seeks a world governed by basic rules.”