American Citizen Jailed in Ukraine for His Political Views Dies

The State Department has confirmed that Gonzalo Lira, a popular YouTuber, has died in a Ukrainian jail

Gonzalo Lira, an American citizen who was jailed in Ukraine for his political views, has died in a Ukrainian prison, the State Department confirmed on Saturday.

Lira died on January 11 after a battle with pneumonia that he said was initially ignored by Ukrainian authorities. Lira’s father, Gonzalo Lira Sr., first notified the media of his son’s death on Friday and said he had been pleading with the US embassy to intervene.

“I cannot accept the way my son has died. He was tortured, extorted, incommunicado for 8 months and 11 days, and the US Embassy did nothing to help my son,” Lira Sr. said in an email, according to The Grayzone.

The Grayzone obtained a note Lira Jr. recently wrote to his defense attorney that indicated he had pneumonia for months before being admitted into the hospital. “I have had double pneumonia (both lungs) as well as pneumothorax and a very severe case of edema (swelling of the body). All this started in mid-October, but was ignored by the prison,” the letter reads.

Gonzalo Lira Jr.

“They only admitted I had pneumonia at a Dec. 22 hearing. I am about to have a procedure to reduce the edema pressure in my lungs, which is causing me extreme shortness of breath, to the point of passing out after minimal activity, or even just talking for 2 minutes,” Lira Jr. added.

Lira Jr. was a popular YouTuber and political commentator based in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv who gained prominence in the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He was very critical of the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky and was arrested by the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) in May 2023 for allegedly justifying the Russian invasion.

“After the start of the full-scale invasion, the blogger was one of the first to support the Russian invaders and glorify their war crimes,” the SBU said in a press release on his arrest. The SBU also accused Lira Jr. of “discrediting the top military and political leadership and the Defense Forces of our state.”

Lira was briefly released from prison on bail in July 2023 and said in a video he posted on social media that he was attempting to seek political asylum in Hungary, but he was again detained by Ukrainian authorities and sent back to prison. There was never any indication that the Biden administration was working to free Lira Jr. from Ukrainian prison.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.