With the highlight on the case of Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who has been detained in Russia since February, the sentencing of a former U.S. diplomat in Russia final month on comparable drug costs has his family members additionally pleading for him to be allowed to return dwelling.
Marc Fogel, an English instructor who had beforehand labored for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was convicted of drug smuggling, in accordance with his household and Russian news outlets. He was sentenced in June — by the identical court docket that’s dealing with Ms. Griner’s case — to 14 years in a high-security penal colony.
Mr. Fogel, 60, labored on the Anglo-American Faculty of Moscow and was arrested in August when customs officers at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow discovered marijuana in his baggage after he arrived from New York. The hashish, in accordance with a press release from the Russian Inside Ministry, had been packaged in a container carrying contact lenses, and hashish oil was additionally present in e-cigarette cartridges.
In a press release shared by Mr. Fogel’s spouse, Jane, his household mentioned that he had been carrying lower than 20 grams of marijuana, which they mentioned had been really helpful to him by a health care provider in the US to assist deal with a long-term, debilitating spinal situation.
Mr. Fogel pleaded responsible to costs of smuggling and illegally possessing, transporting and producing medication, in accordance with the household assertion, which referred to as the 14-year sentence “grossly disproportionate” in contrast with different Russian court docket instances involving comparable portions of marijuana.
Russia’s Inside Ministry has mentioned that Mr. Fogel and his spouse had diplomatic standing till Might 2021, and that Mr. Fogel might have used that standing to open a drug-smuggling route into Moscow. The assertion from his household referred to as these allegations “outrageous and blatantly false” and mentioned that Mr. Fogel had “an exemplary observe report as a instructor.”
“It’s clear that Marc is the sufferer of a politically motivated prosecution designed to stimulate anti-American xenophobia among the many Russian inhabitants,” it added.
Mr. Fogel has not had consular entry since November, in accordance with the household assertion. It mentioned he had since been recognized with nervousness and despair throughout his detention, and it accused the Russian authorities of ignoring repeated requests by Mr. Fogel for medical help. Though Mr. Fogel’s Russian lawyer had requested medical data from his detention facility, they had been informed that none exist, the assertion mentioned.
In contrast to in Ms. Griner’s case, the Biden administration has not publicly categorised Mr. Fogel as “wrongfully detained,” a designation that might transfer his case below the supervision of the particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
A spokesperson for the State Division mentioned in an electronic mail that U.S. officers had been conscious of and monitoring the detention of an American citizen in Russia, however they declined to remark additional, citing privateness considerations.
Talking exterior the courtroom the place Ms. Griner’s trial was going down on Thursday, Elizabeth Rood, the chargé d’affaires on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, mentioned the Biden administration was dedicated to bringing dwelling “all U.S. residents wrongfully detained.” Ms. Rood made no particular point out of Mr. Fogel, and U.S. officers haven’t commented publicly on his sentencing.