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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Detainees Released After Far East Incident

COMBINED REPORTS


Three U.S. citizens detained by Russian authorities near the Chinese border on suspicion of espionage have been released, the Federal Security Service said.


Security Service officials in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok denied Tuesday an earlier report that the trio had been turned over to them after being taken into custody near the border town of Khasan, Itar-Tass said.


The town, 140 kilometers southwest of Vladivostok, is on the Sea of Japan and also sits on Russia's tiny border with North Korea.


The agency cited border authorities Monday as saying the Americans were caught Sunday carrying video footage of a section of the Russian border, the Khasan checkpoint and an electrical alarm system.


The videotapes had been confiscated, the agency said, citing security officials.


Gregory Elftmann, the U.S. Consulate spokesman in Vladivostok, confirmed that the three had been freed but gave no details on what they were doing near Russia's sensitive borders with China and Korea.


"They were within very short distance of the Russian-Chinese border. They weren't supposed to be there," he said in a telephone interview.


"To our understanding, they were questioned and released. As far as we know, there are no charges standing against them."


The report said the Americans worked for foreign companies in Vladivostok.


A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said Tuesday that American officials were trying to check the incident, but had no information beyond the Itar-Tass reports. ()