The countries where the State Department warns that travelers risk being wrongfully detained

While announcing that the WNBA’s Brittney Griner released by Russia, President Joe Biden There was a broader message aimed at all Americans “take precautions” and review the State Department’s travel advisories before traveling abroad. He noted that those advisories now include warnings about “the risk of wrongfully detaining a foreign government.”

Russia detained Griner, who returned home to the United States early Friday morning, and the Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who is still in Russian custody after four years, has drawn wider attention to the wrongful detention of Americans abroad. Another marine, Trevor Reedwas released by Russia in a prisoner exchange in April.

In July, the State Department added a new risk factor to its travel advisories, warning US citizens traveling abroad about the possibility of being wrongfully detained by the government of a foreign country. That indicator, labeled “D”, has been attached since the summer to existing travel advisories for Russia and seven other countries – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea and Venezuela.

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In 2017, Otto Warmbierwas a student of the University of Virginia Coma when he was freed from North Korean custodyhe died soon after his release.

Earlier this year, Venezuela He released seven imprisoned Americans, including five oil executives who had been held for nearly five years, in exchange for two nephews of President Nicholas Maduro’s wife who had been imprisoned for years by the US on convictions in drug smuggling.

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“In July 2022, we introduced a new risk indicator for our Travel Advisors – the “D” indicator,” said a spokesperson for the Sated Department in a statement. “This new indicator warns US citizens of the risk of wrongful detention by a foreign government. We made this change to highlight the increased risk of wrongful detention in certain countries that have engaged in this practice. the United States against unjust detention, including the practice of using individuals as political bargaining chips, everywhere. These practices threaten the safety of all US citizens who travel, work and live across country.”

The State Department has already labeled Burma, China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Russia as “do not travel” countries, its most serious travel advisory label.

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The department has not released figures on how many Americans are wrongfully detained abroad, but a New York Times report on Friday said a senior State Department official estimated in July that between 40 and 50 Americans were being held illegally. wronged by foreign governments.

The Biden administration emphasizes that it is doing everything it can to bring home Americans wrongfully imprisoned abroad.

“I don’t want any American to sit unjustly in detention one more day if we can bring that person home,” Mr. Biden said Thursday.


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