Congress Members To Biden Administration: Do More To Free Americans In Russian Prisons, Start With Marc Fogel

Zinger Key Points
  • Fogel, in his 60s was sentenced to 14 years in Moscow for "large-scale" smuggling while holding a half-ounce of medical pot for spinal pain.
  • Congress members are asking the Biden Administration why Fogel has not been declared "wrongfully detained" like Brittney Griner.

Marc Fogel, now in his 60s, was sentenced by a Russian court to 14 years in prison in June 2022 for allegedly “large-scale” cannabis smuggling.   

Fogel was, in fact, a legal medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania where he used cannabis as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain following spinal surgery.

Fogel, who previously worked at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, was employed as an English teacher at the Anglo-American School in Moscow at the time of his arrest in August 2021 when he entered Russia with about a half-ounce of medical marijuana prescribed by his Pennsylvania doctor.

This week the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted in favor of Sen. Bob Casey's (D-Penn.) bipartisan concurrent resolution calling for Fogel's immediate release from Russian detention.

"This resolution sends a clear, bipartisan message to Vladimir Putin and dictators like him that the United States won't stand for the imprisonment of Americans like Marc Fogel," said Sen. Casey in a press statement on Thursday.

"Marc is a loving father and schoolteacher who's devoted his life to educating students around the world. The United States must do everything possible to bring Marc home and show our enemies that Americans aren't to be used in their political games."

The resolution, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration, urges the Biden Administration to prioritize securing the release of Fogel and other U.S. citizens who are wrongfully detained by Russia, including former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who was detained in March 2023 and charged with espionage.  

Over the past two years, Casey has been pushing the Biden administration to prioritize Fogel's case. The senator led a bipartisan coalition of his colleagues in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the State Department to designate Fogel as "wrongfully detained," so that his case would get the appropriate attention from U.S. officials. Casey and others followed up on several occasions throughout 2022 and 2023 in letters to the State Department and Blinken.

In June 2023, Pennsylvania Reps. Mike KellyGuy ReschenthalerChris Deluzio and Brendan Boyle introduced The Marc Fogel Act, which would require the State Department to explain why wrongful detention was not declared in cases of U.S. nationals detained abroad within six months of arrest.

Meanwhile, WNBA star Brittney Griner was declared wrongfully detained by the Biden administration only two months after she was detained at a Moscow airport in February 2022 for having cannabis oil in her suitcase. 

Photo: Marc Fogel from YouTube

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsPoliticsLegalGlobalTop StoriesBrittney GrinerEvan GershkovichMarc FogelPaul WhelanRussiaRussian detentionSenator Bob CaseyThe Marc Fogel ActVladimir Putin
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