A Moscow court has sentenced U.S. teacher, Marc Fogel, to 14 years in a maximum-security Russian prison for “large-scale drug smuggling.”
“The American citizen Fogel has been found guilty,” the Khimki court said in a statement late Thursday, as per CBS News. By crossing the Russian border, Fogel had committed “large-scale drugs smuggling,” as well as “large-scale illegal storage of drugs without a commercial purpose,” a news release said.
In January, Russian authorities reported Fogel being arrested by customs officials at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow after arriving from New York with his wife. “During customs checks, the marijuana and hash oil were found in his luggage,” officials said, adding that the drugs were hidden in contact lens cases and e-cigarette cartridges. The incident took place in August 2021, according to BBC News.
Fogel claimed the marijuana was prescribed to him after he had a spinal operation in the United States, and that it was used for medical purposes.
In December, Fogel told the lawyers that he brought about 17 grams of marijuana to Russia. The amount Fogel is accused of carrying has not been disclosed, but Russian law defines a “large amount” of marijuana as 100 grams or more. In its response, the U.S. Embassy did not elaborate on Fogel’s case, or his diplomatic status, which he may have held as a member of staff at the former embassy school.
Several Americans are currently being detained in Russian prisons, and vice versa.
Former US Marine Trevor Reed, who was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court for violence, was exchanged in April for a Russian pilot imprisoned in a U.S. jail since 2010.
Brittney Griner, a star basketball player from the United States, is currently being held in Russia on drug smuggling charges. The detention of Griner came just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, defying U.S. warnings.
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PROBASHIRDGANTA.COM