An American teacher and former diplomat in his 60s has been sentenced to 14 years in a Russian penal colony after airport workers found a half ounce (17 grams) of medical marijuana in his luggage.

Marc Fogel, an English teacher at the $34,000 Anglo-American School in Moscow, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in August after Russian border officials picked his suitcase up for inspection.

Fogel was charged with smuggling and possession of a “large scale” of narcotics. He pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling, storing, transporting, manufacturing and processing narcotics, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The punitive sentencing of the US citizen – who previously had US diplomatic status in Russia – is seen as a move by Russia to hold “legal hostages” for possible future swap deals.

“US citizen MH Fogel has been sentenced to 14 years in a maximum security prison,” a court statement said.

Marc Fogel, an English teacher at the $34,000 Anglo-American school in Moscow, was sentenced to 14 years in Russian prison

Fogel was charged with smuggling and possession of a 'large scale' of narcotics by a Moscow court

Fogel was charged with smuggling and possession of a ‘large scale’ of narcotics by a Moscow court

He pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling, storing, transporting, manufacturing and processing narcotics

He pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling, storing, transporting, manufacturing and processing narcotics

Marc Fogel was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in August (pictured above) after he was found with 17 grams of medicinal marijuana hidden in his suitcase, officials say

Marc Fogel was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in August (pictured above) after he was found with 17 grams of medicinal marijuana hidden in his suitcase, officials say

A smiling Marc Fogel pictured holding his match day ticket outside Luzhniki Stadium before a World Cup game in 2018

A smiling Marc Fogel pictured holding his match day ticket outside Luzhniki Stadium before a World Cup game in 2018

Given the abysmal state of relations between Russia and the West, and the West’s support and weapons for Ukraine in its defense against the Russian onslaught, it seems that Russia considers it prudent to hold hostages against the West as future bargaining chips.

In January, CBS News reported that Fogel told lawyers who visited him that he used marijuana for medical reasons after spinal surgery.

The amount he possessed when he was detained was 17 grams, or just over half an ounce, Fogel told attorneys, according to CBS.

Fogel was “unaware of Russia’s ban on medical marijuana,” which he used to relieve back pain after spinal surgery, said Alexander Khurudzhi, a member of Russia’s Health Commission. public oversight.

“He doesn’t understand why he was arrested,” he said after the teacher was detained.

Airport surveillance footage shows the moment inspectors – with sniffer dogs identifying particular items of interest among his luggage – found a ‘carefully disguised’ packet of marijuana in his contact lens case hidden away inside his sneakers.

“The drugs were carefully disguised: the marijuana was packed in a contact lens case and the cannabis oil was contained in e-cigarette cartridges,” said a statement from the Russian Interior Ministry. “Everything was wrapped in plastic and hidden in his sneakers.”

Airport surveillance footage shows inspectors with sniffer dogs identifying particular items of interest among his luggage

Airport surveillance footage shows inspectors with sniffer dogs identifying particular items of interest among his luggage

They found a 'carefully disguised' packet of marijuana in his contact lens case hidden inside his sneakers

They found a ‘carefully disguised’ packet of marijuana in his contact lens case hidden inside his sneakers

Investigators also searched through Fogel's belongings in his office at the elite $34,000-a-year school in Moscow,

Investigators also searched through Fogel’s belongings in his office at the elite $34,000-a-year school in Moscow,

The Russians also claim that Fogel's wife, Jane, sought to remove evidence from their home before police reached them, alleging the video shows her disposing of the evidence.

The Russians also claim that Fogel’s wife, Jane, sought to remove evidence from their home before police reached them, alleging the video shows her disposing of the evidence.

Fogel has been accused of using his diplomatic status as a former member of the US Embassy in Moscow to potentially open a ‘drug smuggling route’ to the Russian capital, the Russian Ministry of Health added. ‘Interior.

Another video shows investigators rummaging through Fogel’s belongings in his office on the premises of an elite $34,000-a-year school in Moscow, which traditionally shares close ties to the British and American embassies.

Documents and personal items, including a baseball cap, were later recovered from English teacher Fogel’s office at the Anglo-American School in Moscow.

The Russians also claim that Fogel’s wife, Jane, sought to remove evidence from their home before they were reached by police.

Footage would show her disposing of evidence, according to reports.

“She took a package out of the house and threw it in the trash, then took it outside the residential compound,” said a RIA Novosti report citing local law enforcement.

Fogel and his wife, Jane, were protected by diplomatic status until May 2021, the Russian Interior Ministry added.

The couple have two sons, Sam, 22, and Ethan, 24, who both attended the Anglo-American School in Moscow.

The prestigious academy traditionally serves the children of expatriates, including diplomats, in Moscow, as well as those of wealthy Russian families.

Fogel is now among several Americans currently being held in Russian penal colonies amid deep bilateral tensions.

Former US Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced by a Moscow court to 16 years in prison in May 2020 on espionage charges condemned by the US as a “travesty of justice”.

Fogel, who has taught at international schools around the world, was charged with smuggling and possessing a

Fogel, who has taught at international schools around the world, has been charged with smuggling and possessing a “large scale” of narcotics. Fogel and his wife, Jane, were protected under diplomatic status until May 2021

Fogel has two sons, Sam, 22, and Ethan, 24, who had both attended the Anglo-American School in Moscow.

Fogel has two sons, Sam, 22, and Ethan, 24, who had both attended the Anglo-American School in Moscow.

Marc Fogel, left, with his wife Jane, center left, son Sam, 22, center right, and son Ethan, 24, right

Marc Fogel, left, with his wife Jane, center left, son Sam, 22, center right, and son Ethan, 24, right

US Marine, Trevor Reed (pictured in 2020) was jailed in 2019 while traveling in Russia with his girlfriend.  He was released in a prisoner exchange and later called the Russian government a

US Marine, Trevor Reed (pictured in 2020) was jailed in 2019 while traveling in Russia with his girlfriend. He was released in a prisoner exchange and later called the Russian government “sincerely bad” on every level.

Another former US Marine, Trevor Reed, sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 after he was arrested and charged with assaulting two Russian police officers in 2019, was swapped in April for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted in the US. United for drug trafficking.

“This government is truly sincerely evil at every level, from the top down,” Reed said upon his return to the United States.

“They have absolutely no value for human life, and this apathy permeates all levels of the Russian government and reverberates from the highest level to the lowest prison guard within their government and all their police officers, all their FSB, everyone who works for this government has absolutely no empathy for other humans.

“They’re completely desensitized to that.”

Russian authorities had taken the ex-marine to prison to sober him up after leaving a party with his Russian girlfriend, but he was later sentenced to nine years for assaulting and endangering the lives of two police officers – although he insisted that he never attacked the police.

Russia is seeking to see arms dealer Viktor Bout – played by Nicholas Cage in the movie Lord of War – who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US, return home as part of a possible swap deal .