Jailed American Farmer Caught in Ukraine Tensions

Kurt Groszhans of North Dakota is jailed overseas on what family calls bogus charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 3, 2022 5:55 PM CST
Jailed American Farmer Caught in Ukraine Tensions
In this image courtesy of Kristi Magnusson, Kurt Groszhans in seen in one of his fields in Ukraine in July 2021.   (Kristi Magnusson via AP)

When Kurt Groszhans set out from North Dakota for Ukraine in 2017, he was eager to connect with his family's ancestral homeland and to farm the rich soil for which the country is known, per the AP. But his farming venture with a law professor who's now a high-ranking Ukrainian government official soon collapsed in acrimony and accusations, culminating in his arrest last November on charges of plotting to assassinate his former business partner. His family and supporters say the accusations are bogus and designed to silence Groszhan's claims of corruption in Ukraine, a country pulled between Russian and Western interests and straining to shed its reputation for graft and cronyism.

The case is unfolding as Ukraine braces for a potential Russian invasion and as the US has ordered the families of American personnel at the US Embassy to evacuate. The upheaval has Groszhan's family afraid that the North Dakota farmer could be left behind, with the US government preoccupied with broader concerns of possible military action. “We're terrified for my brother's well-being right now, especially everything that you're hearing in the news with the Russian troops on the border,” says his sister, Kristi Magnusson. She called on the Biden administration and the State Department to "use their leverage” to get him home.

Asked for comment, the State Department said the administration took seriously its responsibility to help detained Americans and was closely following the case, but declined to comment further. Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who recently visited Groszhans at the detention center where he awaits trial, said the episode has “created friction between at least me and them, if not our two governments, that should be alleviated" at a time when US and Ukrainian interests should be aligned in countering the threat from Moscow. Click to read much more on how the allegations against Groszhans unfolded.)

(More Ukraine stories.)

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