An American citizen was arrested in Russia and was being detained in Moscow, the U.S. State Department said on Sunday. The man was accused of drug trafficking, according to Russian state media.
The press service for a court in Moscow’s Khamovniki district told the Interfax news agency that the man was an ex-paratrooper and musician and accused him of organizing a drug-dealing business involving young people.
The State Department identified the man as Michael Travis Leake. Embassy officials attended his arraignment on Saturday and “will continue to monitor the case closely,” working to provide “all appropriate consular assistance,” the State Department said.
News of the arrest came six months after Brittney Griner, an American basketball star imprisoned in Russia on drug charges, was released in a prisoner swap. Ms. Griner was held for almost 10 months on a cannabis possession charge and her case became an international cause because she was seen as a hostage held by Moscow in response to international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
The United States advises all Americans to avoid traveling to Russia. Many Americans and citizens of European countries left Russia after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, when Western sanctions and flight bans were imposed on the country. It was not immediately clear how many have remained in Russia.