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Marc Fogel resolution advances through Senate committee

Marc Fogel. Submitted

A concurrent resolution calling for Butler native Marc Fogel’s release from a Russian prison advanced from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations earlier last week.

Sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., the resolution calls for the Biden administration to prioritize securing Fogel’s release and any other U.S. nationals from Russia.

The bill was co-sponsored by five senators, including Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa.

“This resolution sends a clear, bipartisan message to Vladimir Putin and dictators like him that the United States won’t stand for the imprisonment of Americans like Marc Fogel,” Casey stated in a news release. “Marc is a loving father and schoolteacher who’s devoted his life to educating students around the world. The United States must do everything possible to bring Marc home and show our enemies that Americans aren’t to be used in their political games.”

The bill is identical to the House resolution sponsored by Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-17th with support from 15 legislators, including Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th and Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th.

The resolution must pass in both the Senate and House of Representatives, but does not require the president’s signature and is nonbinding.

The concurrent resolution is one way for both the House and Senate to spread awareness about Fogel’s case and urge President Joe Biden to take action.

Last month, Fogel was named in a report released by the House Appropriations Committee accompanying the 2024 fiscal spending bill passed by Congress.

The report requires the State Department to provide reasoning for not having designated Fogel as wrongfully detained since his imprisonment.

Fogel, who taught at international schools around the world and had been teaching history at the Anglo-American School of Moscow before his arrest at Sheremetyevo Airport in August 2021, has been imprisoned for nearly three years for carrying about a half ounce of marijuana in his luggage.

He is detained by the Kremlin along with a number of other United States citizens and permanent residents, including Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich, Ksenia Khavana and Alsu Kurmasheva.

Fogel’s 95-year old mother wrote an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently, addressing President Joe Biden to draw attention to Fogel’s imprisonment.

Michael Driscoll, president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where Fogel graduated in 1984 with a degree in social studies education, released a statement Wednesday in support of Malphine Fogel’s editorial.

“The IUP community continues to stand with Marc Fogel and his family during his long, arduous journey,” Driscoll stated. “Marc could not have a better advocate than his mother, whose words in her editorial are heartbreaking and well-reasoned. I have been and continue to be proud to know her and to work with her. We must do everything we can to bring Marc home.”

Malphine Fogel drew parallels between her son’s case and that of Brittney Griner, the professional basketball player similarly sentenced on drug smuggling charges for carrying vaporizer cartridges. Griner was designated as wrongfully detained by the U.S. Department of State and released after a 10-months-long imprisonment as part of a prisoner swap.

Fogel’s mother also noted neither Biden nor Secretary Antony Blinken have “ever acknowledged Marc publicly.”

“My son may never see his beloved Pittsburgh or America again,” Malphine wrote. “I am 95 years old. I may never see my son again. I do not want him to be forgotten. He may be just a regular guy from Western Pennsylvania, but he has made a world of difference to his students, colleagues, friends and, of course, his family. I want him to know that I fought for him every day I could. Mr. President, please say my son’s name. Bring him home.”

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