00:57 GMT16 April 2021
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    Two US citizens released by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's (DPR) forces in eastern Ukraine are linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko said Saturday.

    DONETSK (Sputnik) According to media reports, Donetsk authorities detained the two US nationals, members of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) about 10 days ago.

    "We have released two [US citizens] in light of May 9. One of them was a CIA employee, while the second one has been recruited by the CIA. They were here to gather intelligence," Zakharchenko said.

    Some 30 members of the IRC were reportedly detained on April 29 on espionage charges. The organization stopped its operations in Ukraine after the incident.

    In late April, the DPR Defense Ministry said eight US and EU citizens had been deported from Donetsk on suspicion of espionage. The ministry went on to accuse the IRC of holding illegal operations in Donetsk, as it had worked without the approval of DPR authorities.

    According to the DPR Defense Ministry, IRC staff collected personal data and surveyed local citizens on their attitudes toward the republic's authorities under the guise of humanitarian and psychological aid.


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