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A relatively big deal in a little mention about Fogel

There are 8 billion people on this planet. About 350 million of them are Americans. And about 24 Americans are being held in Russian prisons.

And one of them is from Butler.

It is difficult to know exactly how many Americans are being held in Russian prisons, but a story in the Wall Street Journal last fall that included mention of longtime history teacher and Butler native Marc Fogel, who is nearing three years in a Russian prison, said the number is “roughly two dozen.”

A report on the cover of the Monday issue of the Eagle by staff writer Irina Bucur offered some big news out of Washington, D.C.,: Fogel was named in a report accompanying the 2024 fiscal spending bill recently passed by Congress.

To say it was a mention is a bit understated, really.

The report was released by the House Appropriations Committee alongside the 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, and requires the State Department to provide reasoning for not having designated Fogel as wrongfully detained since his imprisonment.

“The committee has serious and growing concerns regarding the status of American citizen Marc Fogel, who has been detained in Russia since August 2021,” the report read. “The committee notes the Department of State has not been able to provide information on why Mr. Fogel has not been classified as wrongfully detained under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act ...”

“Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this act, the secretary of state shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing information related to the review conducted by the department on whether Marc Fogel is wrongfully detained,” the report continued. “The information required shall be submitted in unclassified form but may contain a classified annex.”

Since Fogel’s detainment, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16, among others, have been vocal about his release. The lawmakers have advocated hard, to no avail. Given that, by Washington standards, this step forward in securing Fogel’s release may seem small. But given the lack of movement on the issue over the last few years, this is a big step in the right direction.

— RJ

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