It’s pretty sad to hear that American prisoners in Russia are living horrible lives behind bars because they were convicted of small crimes. Despite the talks about the prisoner swap, the Russians have decided not to drop the charges against Marc Fogel. So, let’s talk about the unusual situation of American teacher Marc Fogel, who is being held in a Russian prison.
About Marc Fogel
Marc Fogel was an American international baccalaureate history teacher from Pennsylvania. US Marine Paul Whelan is being held as a prisoner in Russia because he had prescribed marijuana in his luggage.
Possessing drugs in Russia is against the law, even if you have a prescription for them. If you are caught with drugs, you will be arrested and sent to jail. So, Marc Fogel, who was a teacher, was caught with marijuana and given 14 years of hard labor in a Russian penal colony.
So, when we looked at the most historic prisoner swap deal made between the most powerful country, Russia, and the most powerful country, America, for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is being held in a Russian prison, in exchange for one of the arms dealers, Viktor Bout, who is being held in a US prison, people yelled out the name of Marc Fogel, who is being wrongfully held in a Russian prison.
So, during the heated discussions about the prisoner swap, poor Marc Fogel, the US Marine Paul Whelan, was called a “wrongfully detained” person who needs help to get back to his home country. But unfortunately, Marc Fogel’s name wasn’t even mentioned by the authorities during this historic prisoner swap proposal.
So, when they were negotiating for Britteny Griner’s release, Kelly Leguineche, who is Marc Fogel’s niece, said that the authorities didn’t even bother to call her uncle a “incorrectly detained American citizen who is being held in Russia.”
She said, “It’s heartbreaking because it feels like this was our last chance to save his life, but we just couldn’t get the momentum we needed for it to matter to them.” No one in his family or anyone we’ve talked to who knows about the conditions in the penal colony thinks he’ll last even close to this long.
So, according to sources, Marc Fogel and his wife Jane spent most of their lives in Russia, where he taught at a diplomatic school run by the American, British, and Canadian embassies. So, the Fogel family, who had a good life, decided to spend another year in Russia. When they got to an airport in Russia, things got pretty bad, which was a shock.
His sister Anne Fogel also talked about how bad things were for their family. Anne Fogel said this in a frustrated way:
“He loves Russia,” they said, and they meant it. He has taught children of diplomats from all over the world for almost 36 years. It looks like there had been a spy. And the spy had told security at the airport that he would be coming through.”
The lawyer who worked for Marc Fogel said, “We started studying cases right away. When we looked into this, we found cases of large-scale drug ring leaders who were given shorter sentences than Marc. We found a case, and not just one case, where someone got ten years for killing someone. And Marc got 14 years in prison.”
From what has been said, it is clear that Marc Fogel, who was an excellent teacher, is being wrongfully detained in Russia because he had a prescription for less than 20 grams of marijuana to help with the pain from a back injury.
Marc Fogel Controversey
So, when the Russian police caught Marc Fogel, he asked them to let him go because he wasn’t guilty. He wasn’t a drug dealer or a scary person; he was a nice history teacher who liked Russia and lived there for a long time.
But even though marijuana was prescribed for severe pain, Russian law sees this as unrepentant and there is no way to avoid the consequences. Even if it was prescribed, it is still against the law in Russia, so Marc Fogel had to be arrested for that.
On August 14, 2021, at the Moscow airport, the Russian police caught Marc Fogel, who was then sixty years old and a teacher, with about seventeen grams of marijuana. This was a sad event. Marc Fogel and his wife were on their way to Moscow so that he could work at a private school there.
When everything happened so quickly that they couldn’t understand it, Marc Fogel told them that the drug was prescribed by a doctor and that he couldn’t stop taking it because he has severe back pain. But despite everything, he was put in jail, and on June 16, 2022, the court gave him a long fourteen-year sentence.
Also, as a prisoner in Russia, Marc Fogel did not have the most basic rights. Marc Fogel hasn’t gotten any consuls since November 2021, and he was told he couldn’t call his family. The sadder news is that, even though he has severe back pain, he was given injections without being properly checked out by a doctor.
So, the most common side effects of the medicines that were injected into him were chest pain, stomach pain, and vomiting. So it is very strange that he had to go through all of this when he hadn’t even done anything wrong. His family and lawyers are doing everything they can to get Marc out of prison in Russia before it’s too late.