Reschenthaler Introduces Resolution to Help Bring Russian Detainee Marc Fogel Home
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) introduced a resolution of inquiry in response to the Biden Administration’s continued reluctance to designate Marc Fogel, a history teacher and Pittsburgh-native imprisoned in Russia, as “wrongfully detained.” Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-15) and Mike Kelly (PA-16) are original cosponsors of the resolution.
“As a former district judge and U.S. Navy JAG, I know when I’m being stonewalled,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “It is indisputable Marc Fogel meets the definition of wrongfully detained under the Levinson criteria. 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.”
“As the Russian government continues its hostilities toward Americans, we must have complete access to the full report regarding Mr. Fogel's detainment, trial, and sentencing," said Rep. Thompson. "It is imperative the State Department exhausts all efforts to return him to his family here in the United States."
“After repeated congressional inquiries from both sides of the aisle, Marc Fogel's family deserves answers from the Biden Administration regarding Mr. Fogel’s potential designation as ‘wrongfully detained,’” said Rep. Kelly. “In addition to his grossly disproportionate 14-year sentence to a Russian maximum-security penal colony, Marc’s case certainly meets several of the other established criteria to be considered ‘wrongfully detained.’ With this resolution, it is my hope that the State Department will elevate this case, properly designate Marc as ‘wrongfully detained,’ and work to secure his timely release for Marc, his Western Pennsylvania family, and supporters across the globe.”
“IUP fully supports the House Resolution of Inquiry proposed and advanced by Reps. Reschenthaler, Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, and Mike Kelly with the goal of ultimately ending IUP alumni Marc Fogel’s unjust, inequitable, and cruel detainment,” said Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Michael A. Driscoll. “Mr. Fogel is a valued IUP alumnus – a member of the IUP family – and we share the pain, sadness, and concern of his family and friends. We hope that the Biden Administration will take all steps possible to free Mr. Fogel and that the Russian government will release him. “
Specifically, this resolution would direct President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide the U.S. House of Representatives with copies of all documents relating to the Department of State’s review of the statutory criteria for Marc Fogel to be designated as “wrongfully detained,” based on the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act. This includes all documents, telephone records, audio recordings, and correspondence relating to this case within the possession of the Secretary.
Mr. Fogel is a Butler County, Pennsylvania native and taught history courses at schools attended by children of U.S. diplomats in Columbia, Venezuela, Oman, Malaysia, and Russia. In August 2021, he was detained at the Sheremetyevo Airport with a small amount of medical marijuana prescribed for his chronic back pain. In June 2022, he was sentenced to fourteen years of hard labor in a Russia prison, a sentence usually reserved for large-scale drug smugglers.
Under federal law, Mr. Fogel meets at least six of the eleven established criteria to be designated as “wrongfully detained” by the State Department.
At the beginning of August, Rep. Reschenthaler led a letter to Secretary Antony Blinken urging the State Department to immediately designate Mr. Fogel as “wrongfully detained” and ensure he is included in any negotiations to bring Americans imprisoned in Russia home.
Earlier this week, Rep. Reschenthaler led another bipartisan, bicameral letter demanding the Biden Administration follow the Levinson Act criteria and prioritize Mr. Fogel’s release.
Read the resolution here.