According to statements from the Russian judiciary, Travis Michael Leake was arrested and detained on Saturday. A statement released on Telegram by Moscow’s courts of general jurisdiction said Leake was arrested after “the Khamovniki District Court of Moscow took a preventive measure against an American citizen.”
“The former Moscow paratrooper and musician is accused of engaging in the narcotics business through attracting young people,” the statement added.
The statement went on to say that Leake allegedly “organized the sale of drugs to young people.” The veteran will be in custody “until Aug. 6, 2023,” pending the possibility of a trial. Leake is specifically accused of selling mephedrone, which is known to have effects similar to those of MDMA and cocaine.
Leake has supposedly lived in Russia for several years and is a known musician and music producer.
The State Department has confirmed that it is “aware” of Leake’s arrest and said in a statement, “We are aware of reports of the recent arrest of a U.S. citizen in Moscow.”
“When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the department pursues consular access as soon as possible and works to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the statement added.
According to local media reports, Leake said after his arrest, “I don’t understand why I’m here. I don’t admit guilt, I don’t believe I could have done what I’m accused of because I don’t know what I’m accused of.”
The U.S. is likely to view Leake’s arrest as part of an ongoing crackdown against Americans in Russia that has been occurring since the start of the war in Ukraine and worsening economic sanctions from the U.S. and the West.
ZeroHedge reports that while WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russian prison as part of a prisoner swap with renowned Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, other Americans remain in Russian custody.
Among those incarcerated in Russia are former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich, and school teacher Marc Fogel, who was arrested on medical marijuana possession charges in August 2021.
Russian authorities also work under the assumption that if an American is found to be in possession of drugs, then they are also suspected of “smuggling” or of having the intent to distribute, which seems to be what’s happening regarding Travis Leake’s arrest and detention.
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Leake, who is a well-known musician in Moscow appeared on Anthony Bourdian’s “Parts Unknown” in 2014 where he expressed his frustrations about censorship regarding an MTV documentary.
“This was a documentary series about musicians standing up and risking their lives in some cases, to stand up against government abuse of power, government corruption,” Leake said.
“Ad yet, a foreign government was able to editorially control what American viewers see on their TV screens. That to me is a scandal of epic proportion,” Leake concluded.
The episode’s producer, Darya Tarasova, said the “band wasn’t that famous but Travis and his friends had been very vocal about the freedom of speech and state oppression in Russia.”
Leake’s friends were surprised that he stayed in Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine, which prompted the U.S. to repeatedly warn Americans to leave Russia – a warning Leake clearly did not heed.
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