US should show why American teacher held in Russia is not considered ‘wrongfully detained,’ congressman says
A Pennsylvania congressman is pushing for President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to release documents showing why Marc Fogel, an American being held in Russia, was not designated as being “wrongfully detained.”
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, a Pennsylvania Republican, introduced the resolution on Thursday seeking an explanation as to why Fogel, who has been in Russia’s custody since August 2021, has not been classified as “wrongfully detained.” According to Reschenthaler’s office, Fogel “meets at least six of the 11 established criteria to be designated as ‘wrongfully detained’ by the State Department.”
“It is indisputable Marc Fogel meets the definition of wrongfully detained under the Levinson criteria,” Reschenthaler said in a prepared statement. “Yet as his health rapidly deteriorates ahead of his transfer to a hard-labor penal colony, the Biden administration is still making excuses rather than following the letter of the law. They owe Congress an explanation for their inaction.”
MARC FOGEL: CONGRESS MEMBERS ASK BLINKEN TO ADD PENNSYLVANIA NATIVE TO POTENTIAL GRINER, WHELAN PRISONER SWAP
U.S. Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson and Mike Kelly, both of Pennsylvania, co-sponsored the resolution.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request seeking comment.
The Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act establishes criteria and procedures for those who have been wrongfully detained in foreign countries.
MARC FOGEL: FAMILY OF AMERICAN MAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA BEGS BIDEN, BLINKEN TO ADD HIM TO BRITNEY GRINER DEAL
The “wrongfully detained” designation “would commit additional U.S. government resources to securing his release and move to the jurisdiction of the U.S. government’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs,” an attorney assisting Fogel’s family previously told Fox News Digital.
Fogel, 60, is serving what attorneys have called an “exorbitant” 14-year sentence for being caught in Russia with medical marijuana that he used to treat a severe back injury.
Fogel had worked as a teacher at school in Moscow for nearly 10 years when he was stopped at an airport upon his return to Russia. He was in possession at the time of medical marijuana his doctor recommended he take for “severe chronic pain” that was caused by years of spinal injuries and resulting surgeries.
RUSSIAN OFFICIALS RESPOND TO US OFFER FOR BRITTNEY GRINER, PAUL WHELAN: ‘NO AGREEMENTS HAVE BEEN FINALIZED’
He was detained in August 2021, when he reportedly had approximately half an ounce of medically-prescribed marijuana. In June of this year, he was sentenced to 14 years in a Russian prison after he was convicted of “large-scale drugs smuggling,” according to officials and reports.
Blinken revealed in late July that the U.S. had offered to make a deal with Russia in exchange for two Americans, WNBA athlete Brittney Griner – who was also detained at a Russian airport on drug-related charges – and Michigan security executive Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage charges that his family has completely rejected. Fogel was not included in the deal.
US OFFERS ‘SUBSTANTIAL PROPOSAL’ TO BRING BRITTNEY GRINER, PAUL WHELAN HOME FROM RUSSIA
An attorney assisting Fogel’s family with his case told Fox News Digital in an email that Fogel “fully cooperated with the investigation and prosecution; submitted substantial proof of prior medical treatment, of debilitating health conditions, and of his doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
His representatives shared dozens of reference letters and evidence showing his lack of any criminal record.