NEWS: Russia
American teacher arrested in Russia for “large-scale” drug trafficking.

Russ­ian author­i­ties say an Amer­i­can teacher was arrest­ed in Moscow for “large-scale” drug traf­fick­ing after cannabis prod­ucts were found on him at the airport.

Marc Fogel, who is a for­mer employ­ee of the US Embassy in Moscow, was going through cus­toms last August when trained dogs react­ed to his lug­gage, the Russ­ian Inte­ri­or Min­istry said on Thurs­day, adding that he had been arrest­ed to pre­vent him from hid­ing in the embassy.

Why the announce­ment was made months after the arrest was unclear.

“Since the sus­pect could hide from the inves­ti­ga­tion on the ter­ri­to­ry of the embassy, ​​the Khim­ki city court chose a restraint mea­sure in the form of deten­tion,” he said.

“Mar­i­jua­na and hash oil were found in the for­eign­er’s lug­gage. The drugs were care­ful­ly dis­guised,” he said in a statement.

Mar­i­jua­na was hid­den in con­tact lens cas­es, while cannabis oil was found in e‑cigarette car­tridges, the state­ment said.

Fogel and his wife enjoyed diplo­mat­ic immu­ni­ty until May last year, the Russ­ian Inte­ri­or Min­istry said.

At the time of his arrest, he had start­ed teach­ing at the Anglo-Amer­i­can school in Moscow, the state­ment said.

Fogel was charged with “large scale smug­gling and pos­ses­sion of drugs,” the state­ment said.

The U.S. Embassy said in a state­ment to the AFP news agency: “We take our respon­si­bil­i­ty to assist Amer­i­can cit­i­zens abroad seri­ous­ly and are mon­i­tor­ing the situation.”

The mis­sion declined to pro­vide fur­ther com­ment, cit­ing con­fi­den­tial­i­ty considerations.

Sev­er­al Amer­i­cans are cur­rent­ly being held in Russ­ian prisons.

The most high-pro­file US cit­i­zen detained in Rus­sia is Paul Whe­lan, a for­mer secu­ri­ty guard for an auto parts com­pa­ny who was arrest­ed in 2018 for espionage.

Trevor Reed is a for­mer US Marine, who was arrest­ed in 2019 for a drunk­en fight in which he is accused of punch­ing two Russ­ian police officers.

Russ­ian author­i­ties have offered to swap Amer­i­can pris­on­ers for Rus­sians held in Amer­i­can pris­ons, includ­ing con­tract pilot Kon­stan­tin Yaroshenko, who was con­vict­ed in 2011 of drug traf­fick­ing in the Unit­ed States.

Ten­sions between Rus­sia and the Unit­ed States are soar­ing, with Wash­ing­ton accus­ing Moscow of plot­ting to invade Ukraine and the Krem­lin demand­ing that NATO halt its east­ward expansion.

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