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U.S. citizen detained for months in Belarus is released and returned, says Pompeo

Vitali Shkliarov had been imprisoned in Belarus since the summer

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)
Updated: October 28, 2020 - 11:38am

An American citizen who has been detained in Belarus for the past three months has been released and returned to the United States. 

Vitali Shkliarov, a dual citizen, traveled to Belarus this summer to visit family and friends. He was subsequently arrested for working with an opposition blogger and helping him organize illegal rallies.

His wife, however, said he did not work for the opposition campaign, despite being critical of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko prior to his detainment.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Tuesday evening that Shkliarov, an American political consultant who has worked for the Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama campaigns, had returned to Washington, D.C. 

Last month, Shkliarov's wife, Heather, a U.S. diplomat, told reporters that her husband's health was in "immediate danger" after he developed symptoms of the novel coronavirus while in prison. 

On his arrival back to the states, Shliarov was reported "extremely alert" and apparently in good health, despite being subjected to some physical interrogation techniques while jailed. 

"After three months of wrongful detention and house arrest, Mr. Shkliarov has been reunited with his family and has arrived in the United States ... As the President and I have made clear, we will not tolerate foreign governments wrongfully detaining US citizens," Pompeo said. 

Earlier this week, Roger Carstens, the United States special presidential envoy for Hostage Affairs, traveled to Belarus to escort Shkliarov back to the U.S.