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Michael Travis Leake, US musician, arrested in Russia

BY Anas Shah Jun 12, 2023. 03:22 pm UPDATED: Jun 12, 2023. 03:22 pm

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US citizen Michael Travis Leake, a musician and former soldier, has been imprisoned in Russia on drug-related accusations.

According to AFP, Mr. Leake “organized the sale of drugs to young people,” according to the Khamovnichesky court in Moscow. He rejects the accusations.

footage from Mr. Leake’s trial that showed him imprisoned in a metal cage was aired on Russian official television.

He said he “didn’t know” why he was being held in a different video that was posted online.

He said he didn’t think he had done what he was accused of since he didn’t know what the allegations were, looking bewildered in the process.

According to a US State Department official, embassy personnel were present at Mr. Leake’s court appearance on June 10th.

The representative also stated that the department was constantly monitoring the situation.

According to AFP, he will be detained until August 6 in anticipation of a potential trial.

In light of the heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow, Mr. Leake is at least the third American imprisoned in Russia in recent years.

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Mr. Leake, a musician and music producer who reportedly spent many years living in Russia, was a part of the Moscow-based “American fronted rock band” Lovi Noch.

He appeared in a 2014 episode of the travel program Parts Unknown, which was hosted by the late chef Anthony Bourdain, according to the US news organization CNN.

Producing the episode, Darya Tarasova described Mr. Leake as a “showman” who was “very articulate” and “loved Russia” to CNN. Ms. Tarasova said he frequently collaborated with regional rock bands.

His arrest at his Moscow apartment had already been reported by local Russian media.

Russian officials have been charged by US officials with intentionally arresting American individuals.

US journalist Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was detained by Russian officials in March on suspicion of espionage. He is still being held pending trial.

In a prisoner swap for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout late last year, Brittney Griner, an American basketball player who had been imprisoned in Russia on drug-related charges, was freed.

Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has strained ties between the US and Russia, US Marine Paul Whelan was given a 16-year prison sentence on “spying” accusations.

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