June 12 (UPI) — An American musician was arrested in Moscow over the weekend on drug charges, according to a Russian court.
Travis Michael Leake, an American who lived and worked in Russia for more than a decade, was arrested on Saturday on charges of “running a drug-trafficking business involving young people,” Moscow’s Chamovniki District Court said. a brief statement was issued in a telegram.
The court, which ordered Leake’s arrest, stated that the American will be released by August 6. had to remain in custody. The statement also describes him as a former US Marine.
Russian state-run TASS said the court’s press service indicated that Leake’s arrest was related to the earlier arrest of his girlfriend Valerija Grobaniuk. Each faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
The State Department confirmed Leake’s arrest in a statement Sunday, telling CNN that officials from its embassy in Moscow attended his court hearing on Saturday.
“We will continue to monitor the case closely,” the statement said.
Leake was detained as the United States tried to secure the release of Evan Gershkovich, a US citizen and journalist for The Wall Street Journal, who was arrested by Russia in late March on espionage charges, charges the US denies.
Russia also arrested WNBA star Brittney Griner in 2022. in February, days before the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, was accused of drug smuggling after a small amount of cannabis oil was found in her luggage when she arrived in the country to play basketball.
The Olympian was sentenced to nine years in prison but was released in December after a prisoner swap between the Biden administration and the Putin regime that saw Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout go the other way.