Donald Trump Jr. blasted Russian authorities for detaining several Mormon volunteers and continuing to refuse to release them, despite reportedly agreeing to do so.
“Terrible, I know many great Mormon families with children who are missionaries or who have done missions,” Trump Jr. tweeted Wednesday, along with a link to an article from Deseret News about the arrest of two Latter-day Saints last week during a church meeting in Novorossiysk, Russia. (RELATED: Exclusive Video: Trump Jr. And Guilfoyle Unleash On Hillary Clinton Over ‘Civility’ Comment)
“That they would be held for doing this and their numerous other charitable deeds is sickening,” he added, above a headline that read, “Russian police detain two Latter-day Saint volunteers in Novorossiysk.” (RELATED: Putin Says Russia Is ‘Open To Dialogue’ With US In Holiday Message To Trump)
Terrible, I know many great Mormon families with children who are missionaries or who have done missions. That they would be held for doing this and their numerous other charitable deeds is sickening!
Russian police detain two Latter-day Saint volunteers https://t.co/IUogpWWfLh
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 6, 2019
The comments come in response to the report that last Friday two Mormon volunteers were arrested by local Russian police for allegedly teaching English without a license, according to the father of one of the young men. (RELATED: American Man Being Held In Russia On Charges Of Espionage)
But the volunteers said they were just conducting a regularly scheduled game night in English.
“They are just excited to be there and they love the people,” the father shared. “They just want nothing more than to help them.”
“We’re doing a little better,” he added, after finally getting a chance to speak with his son. “We talked with the elders, with our son, yesterday, last night. … It was such a relief and so nice. It was really, really a sweet moment. I think he is fine. He told us that they are fine. They’re getting food.”
“While we are grateful these young men are reportedly in good condition and are being treated well, we are troubled by the circumstances surrounding their detention,” Eric Hawkins, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said. “They have both spoken to their parents. We will continue to work with local authorities and encourage the swift release of these volunteers.”
A hearing was held Saturday to resolve the matter with attorneys from the church representing the Mormon volunteers. However, an agreement to have the two surrender their visas and leave the country did not happen. The boys will most likely now remain in detention through the week.
In July 2016, Russia passed an anti-terrorism law that included “a provision banning public missionary work.”