Russia says it’s detained U.S. citizen Robert Woodland on drug charges that carry possible 20 year sentence

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Russia has detained and brought drug-related charges that carry a potential 20 year prison sentence against a U.S. citizen identified as Robert Romanov Woodland, a Moscow court said Tuesday.

“On January 6, the Ostankinsky District Court of Moscow ordered Robert Romanov Woodland to be placed in detention for a period of two months, until March 5, 2024,” the court said in a post on social media, adding that he had been detained earlier in January and was accused of various narcotics-linked offenses.

The Reuters news agency cited Russian news website Mash as reporting that Woodland, 32, was taken into custody on Jan. 5 and charged with attempted large-scale production and sale of illegal drugs.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department.

Reuters said there was a Facebook account in the name of Robert Woodland indicating that the individual had been working as an English teacher in Russia, living outside the capital, Moscow. It said the profile indicated that the man had both Russian and U.S. passports.

Evan Gershkovich, left, and Paul Whelan
Evan Gershkovich, left, and Paul Whelan are currently detained in Russia on espionage charges that the U.S. says are unfounded.

The Wall Street Journal; Sofia Sandurskaya/AP

Moscow is holding at least two other U.S. nationals, Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, both of whom the State Department says are being wrongfully detained.

In his customary end-of-year news conference in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government was engaged in talks with the U.S. over the men’s fate, and that he hoped to “find a solution,” though “it’s not easy.”

The U.S. has negotiated prisoner swaps with Russia in the past, including the high-profile 2022 deal that saw basketball star Brittney Griner freed by Moscow in exchange for the U.S. releasing arms dealer Viktor Bout, whose illicit deeds earned him the nickname “the Merchant of Death.” 

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