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Russian court rejects appeal by US citizen detained on treason charge

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A Russian court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a Russian-American woman against her detention on a treason charge.

The FSB security service said last week that Ksenia Karelina had been detained on suspicion of raising funds for Ukraine’s armed forces. The Los Angeles resident had been collecting funds for a Ukrainian organization whose ultimate beneficiary was the Ukrainian army, the FSB said.

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A Russian lawyers’ group, Pervy Otdel, said it had information that Karelina had donated just over $50 from her US bank account on Feb. 24, 2022 - the day that Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine - to a charity that sends aid to Ukraine.

Karelina’s lawyer had asked the court to lift her detention and replace it with house arrest, state news agency RIA said.

Pervy Otdel said Karelina was initially detained on Jan. 27 for alleged “petty hooliganism”, and the treason charge was filed later. It carries up to 20 years in prison under Russian law.

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Several other Americans including former marine Paul Whelan and journalists Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva are also imprisoned in Russia.

Their supporters say Russia is using them to exert leverage on Washington and eventually to trade them for Russian prisoners in the United States. The Kremlin says the authorities are simply enforcing Russian laws.

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