American Citizen Dies in Ukrainian Custody. Here’s Who His Father Is Blaming.

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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The U.S. State Department reportedly confirmed the death of Chilean-American blogger Gonzalo Lira, who had been imprisoned in Ukraine for criticizing the country’s government.

“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” a State Department official told Russian news agency TASS. 

“We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment,” the official added.

The statement came after Tucker Carlson announced his death, per Lira’s father. 

“Gonzalo Lira, Sr. says his son has died at 55 in a Ukrainian prison, where he was being held for the crime of criticizing the Zelensky and Biden governments,” Carlson wrote, linking to his story about the commentator last month. “Gonzalo Lira was an American citizen, but the Biden administration clearly supported his imprisonment and torture. Several weeks ago we spoke to his father, who predicted his son would be killed.”

Chilean-American war commentator Gonzalo Lira died shortly before noon on January, 11, 2024 at a hospital in Kharkiv, where he had been imprisoned for eight months since he was accused of justifying Russian war efforts in Ukraine.

Lira came to prominence in 2022 when he emerged as a critical voice in an increasingly dictatorial Ukraine. His arrest in May 2023 on charges of “production and dissemination of materials justifying Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine” helped to galvanize domestic opposition to US funding for the war and led to calls for his release by tech baron Elon Musk and American political commentator Tucker Carlson.

A note written by Lira and provided by his father to The Grayzone indicates his death came after a nearly three-month battle with pneumonia, a condition which was apparently ignored by his Ukrainian jailers until just weeks before his death. (The Grayzone)

Lira’s father reportedly urged the U.S. Embassy to get involved after learning his son was hospitalized, but to no avail. He blames both Washington and Kiev for his son’s death.

“I cannot accept the way my son has died. He was tortured, extorted, incommunicado for 8 months and 11 days and the US Embassy did nothing to help my son,” Lira Sr. said in an email announcing his son’s death, reports The Grayzone.

“The responsibility of this tragedy is [with] the dictator Zelensky with the concurrence of a senile American President, Joe Biden,” he continued: “My pain is unbearable. The world must know what is going on in Ukraine with that inhuman dictator Zelensky.”

After Carlson’s initial report last month, Elon Musk tried to get answers from Ukrainian President Zelensky. 

Following news of Lira’s death, many conservatives argued Washington should not send any more money to Ukraine. 

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