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Ukraine suspends US spokeswoman Sarah Ashton-Cirillo over unapproved statements

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The Ukrainian army said Wednesday it had suspended Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s territorial defence forces from the United States, over statements that the hierarchy said were not approved.

“Sarah Ashton-Cirillo has been suspended from the duties of the spokesperson of the (territorial defence forces of Ukraine) while an investigation is underway,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said on social media.

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After coming to Ukraine to report on refugees, Ashton-Cirillo ended up fighting for Ukraine and became a spokesperson for the country’s territorial defence forces.

A trans woman, she told AFP in a recent interview that she had learned to “embrace the hate of the Russians” who have mocked her gender identity.

It was unclear which statements provoked her suspension.

“The statements of (Sarah) Ashton-Cirillo in recent days were not approved by the command of the territorial defence forces,” they said.

“When conducting military operations against the aggressor, the defence forces of Ukraine strictly observe the norms of international humanitarian law.”

Ashton-Cirillo hosts live YouTube shows from her studio called “Ukraine in the Know” and “Russia Hates the Truth”.

She also constantly posts on Twitter, where she has 156,000 followers.

In an interview with AFP, she said she had editorial control of her own production and aims to avoid a dry, number-based approach to covering the war.

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