November 01, 2022

Reschenthaler, Lamb, Casey Demand Biden Administration Fight to Bring Russian Detainee Marc Fogel Home

WASHINGTON. D.C. – U.S. Representatives Guy Reschenthaler?(PA-14), Conor Lamb (PA-17), and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding the State Department prioritize securing the release of Marc Fogel, an American teacher imprisoned in Russia. 

“I am deeply disappointed with the State Department’s refusal to classify Marc Fogel as wrongfully detained and its failure to prioritize him in discussions with Russian government officials about releasing Americans imprisoned in Russia,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “The Biden Administration must make every effort to bring all political prisoners home, whether they’re a celebrity athlete or a history teacher from Pittsburgh. I urge the State Department to dispense with this bureaucratic nonsense and work with us to reunite Marc Fogel with his family.” 

Mr. Fogel has been wrongfully detained for more than a year and it is time for the State Department to step up their efforts to secure his release,” said Rep. Lamb. “Mr. Fogel and his family need to know that the full weight of the United States government is behind the effort to secure his freedom.” 

In August, Rep. Reschenthaler led a letter to Sec. 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. Despite this, the State Department still has not updated Mr. Fogel’s classification to “wrongfully detained.”  

Marc Fogel taught history at schools attended by children of U.S. diplomats in Columbia, Venezuela, Oman, Malaysia, and, for the last 10 years, Russia. In August 2021, he was arrested at the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for carrying a small amount of medical marijuana prescribed for his severe back injuries. He was sentenced to 14 years of hard labor in a Russian prison, a sentence usually reserved for large-scale drug smugglers and murderers. 

The bipartisan letter was signed by 25 members of Congress, including Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Representatives Mike Doyle (PA-18), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Fred Keller (PA-12), Susan Wild (PA-7), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Madeleine Dean (PA-4), Dwight Evans (PA-3), Brendan Boyle (PA-2) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). 

The full text of the letter can be read here