- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2022

A Russian court sentenced Marc Fogel, an American teacher and former U.S. embassy worker, to 14 years in a penal colony for having cannabis at the airport in August 2021.

The Khimki City Court of the Moscow Region stressed that Mr. Fogel pleaded guilty to the charges, but it is the latest instance of an American being caught up in the Russian judicial system amid tensions over the war in Ukraine.  

American basketball star Brittney Griner is in pretrial detention in Russia after a similar incident in which authorities found cannabis oil in her luggage.

Mr. Fogel worked for the Anglo-American School of Moscow at the time of his arrest. He had diplomatic immunity as an embassy employee until May 2021.

Mr. Fogel said he had the drug for medical purposes but Interfax, the Russian news agency, floated more nefarious suspicions in a news release on the sentence. 

It cited his employment as a teacher.

“The person involved could use this status to organize a channel for the supply of drugs to Russia with the aim of subsequent sale among the students of the specified school,” the news agency said.

Interfax said Mr. Fogel pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling, storing, transporting, manufacturing and processing narcotic drugs.

Detentions of Americans have been a challenge for President Biden.

President Biden negotiated the release of Trevor Reed, an American veteran who spent nearly three years in a Russian prison. He was freed in a prisoner swap in April.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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