US citizens Alexander John-Robert Drueke, 39, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, from Hartselle, Alabama, were interviewed by Russia’s RT channel at a detention center in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Friday, according to a report published on RT.
On Friday, short video clips surfaced on pro-Russian channels and social media appearing to show the men detained at an unknown location. At the time it was not clear who was holding them.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN on Friday they “have seen the photos and videos of these two US citizens reportedly captured by Russia’s military forces in Ukraine” and were “closely monitoring the situation.”
“We are in contact with Ukrainian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and with the families themselves,” they continued. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment on these cases.”
Separately, a more than 50-minute edited video was published on Saturday of Drueke and Huynh being interviewed by HelmCast, a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist YouTube channel.
In the interview, a man can be heard behind the camera revealing the location of their interview when he says, “here in Donetsk” during a question to Drueke.
Drueke is also asked in the interview if he has any objections to how he has been treated since his capture and he reveals he has been beaten.
CNN is choosing not to broadcast the videos of US detainees because they show the men speaking under duress.
The location of Drueke and Huynh’s detention is a potentially concerning development. Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, whereas Donetsk uses firing squads to execute condemned prisoners, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.
Hopes that a prisoner swap between Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists could free any foreign fighters detained in Donetsk appeared to have been dashed after Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed head of DPR, said such exchanges were out of the question.
“The exchange of the British men sentenced to death in the DPR is not under discussion, there are no grounds for pardoning them,” Pushilin told independent Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta on Thursday.
The Donetsk People’s Republic did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the detention of Drueke and Huynh.
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