By now you might have heard of Brittney Griner, the American basketball player who, while playing in Russia, got busted for possession of marijuana (she was using it to help deal with the pain from assorted minor injuries) and was sentenced to nine years in prison – a labor camp, specifically.
There’s been quite a bit of justified outrage at her treatment, with much news coverage of her case and calls for her release.
But what of Marc Fogel?
He’s another American citizen who was living in Moscow, teaching history to the students of American diplomats and other VIPs who were there for extended periods. By all accounts, the 60-year-old Fogel was liked and respected by everyone. On a visit back to the US in 2021 for some medical attention, he was prescribed marijuana to help him deal with chronic pain issues resulting from multiple surgeries.
On his return to Moscow in August 2021, he was nabbed at the airport and charged with drug smuggling for the marijuana and cannabis oils he had with him (less than 20 grams in total). At his trial, both the prosecution and judge noted his utter lack of prior record, fine character, and medical need – but he was still sentenced to FOURTEEN YEARS of hard labor in a penal colony.
Given his age and health, that’s pretty much a death sentence.
Where’s the outrage for him? Where are the news articles reporting on his case? Why can’t he even get the State Department to declare him as “Wrongfully Imprisoned”, thereby opening up a lot more diplomatic tools to work for his release?
Is it because he’s pretty much a nonentity? Just another American living and working abroad, and not a star athlete?
I can’t find any mailing or e-mail addresses, but these are the people you should probably contact (along with your representatives in Congress):
Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State
Urza Zeya, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights