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Ex-US intel officer Ritter says his passport was seized to hamper anti-Russophobia

He expects to have his passport before the BRICS summit in Russia’s Kazan in October

WASHINGTON, June 13. /TASS/. Scott Ritter, a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector, said the US authorities annulled his passport to prevent him from visiting Russia and hamper anti-Russophobia efforts in the United States.

Earlier, Ritter told TASS that he had been pulled off a flight from New York to Istanbul from where he intended to travel to Russia to take part in the the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). His passport was seized, Ritter said, adding that US officials had not clarified the reason why he had been stopped from leaving the country, only saying that it was being done based on instructions from the US Department of State. A department spokesperson told TASS that the agency "cannot comment on the status of the passport of a private US citizen."

"It's a passport that was issued to me in 2021 it was a valid passport. It's a passport that I've used to travel internationally, to include two prior trips to Russia," he told a conference, organized by the Schiller Institute in Washington. "What I've been doing since May of 2023 is traveling to Russia on a mission of peace, a mission designed to learn about the Russian people, to learn about their culture, to learn about their history, to learn about their soul, and to capture this and bring it back to America as the antidote to the disease, the poison of Russophobia that has gripped the American people."

"The point is, I was starting to gain traction. My message was starting to resonate, not only inside Russia, but here in the United States and around the world," he continued. "The trip that I was going on started at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, but it didn't stop there. There was going to be a 40-day journey throughout Russia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea and everything in between."

Ritter said that during his visit, he planned to speak to the Russians "of peace, of hope, of trying to find an alternative to the policy paths that we're currently on that lead to the potential of nuclear war."

"And we had set up the mechanism where we would be live streaming this to the American audience that is growing exponentially as we speak. This <…> scared them [the Biden administration] to death, which is why they took the extraordinary measure of pulling me out of the line and preventing me from flying," he said, adding that it was a violation of his constitutional rights. "They have provided no reason why they did this, and ultimately, because they knew what I was doing and they knew what they were stopping by stopping me.".

Ritter expects to have his seized US passport replaced with a new one before the BRICS summit in Russia’s Kazan in October.

"I'm smiling right now, because this is about the dumbest situation in the world. It's clearly a provocation by the State Department to prevent me from traveling," he said, answering to a question from TASS after a conference, organized by the Schiller Institute in Washington. "They've accomplished their mission. I was supposed to go to the Moscow International Security Conference in August. They don't want me to go to that. So they're going to drag this thing out to prevent that. Hopefully, I can get a passport and travel by the time of the BRICS conference in October."

The BRICS presidency passed over to Russia on January 1, 2024. It will last until the end of the year and includes more than 250 events that have a wide range of topics. The main event will be the BRICS summit in October 2024 in the Volga area city of Kazan.

Ritter also sent official requests to US authorities seeking explanations about why his US passport was seized.

When asked about the possibility of taking the matter to a court, he said: "Before I can answer that question, I have to know why they did it."

"I’ve already initiated inquiries and awaiting answers. I made phone calls to the State Department to the Customs and Border Protection Service," he said, answering to a TASS correspondent’s question after addressing a conference, organized by the Schiller Institute in Washington.

Ritter said he "never thought" about applying for Russian citizenship.

"I’m an American citizen. I’m an American patriot. My duty and responsibilities lie within this country. If there’s problems, they need to be fixed. You don’t fix them by running away. You fix them by staying and confronting the problems head on," he continued. "I like Russia. I love Russia. It’s a wonderful place. And I look forward to visiting Russia often and being friends with the Russian people. But I’m gonna be friends as an American citizen is an American patriot, an American."