July 15th, 2024

US citizen Woodland convicted of drug-related charges by Moscow court. He’s sentenced to 12.5 years

By The Associated Press on July 4, 2024.

Robert Woodland, right, a Russia-born U.S. citizen, stands in a glass cage as he talks with his lawyer Stanislav Kshevitsky prior to a court hearing, Thursday, July 4, 2024, in Moscow, Russia. Woodland was convicted of drug-related charges and sentenced to 12 and a 1/2 years in prison on Thursday. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW (AP) – Robert Woodland, a Russia-born U.S. citizen, was convicted of drug-related charges by a Moscow court and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison on Thursday, court officials and his lawyers said.

He was found guilty of attempted trafficking of large amounts of illegal drugs as part of an organized group, according to an online statement released by court officials, and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in a maxim security penal colony. His lawyers told reporters after the verdict was delivered Thursday that they will appeal the ruling because Woodland’s guilt hasn’t been proven.

Lawyer Stanislav Kshevitsky also said that Woodland has been suffering from unspecified mental health issues. He didn’t provide any details, but said that the court didn’t take those issues into account.

Russian media reported that his name matches a U.S. citizen interviewed in 2020 who said he was born in the Perm region in 1991 and adopted by an American couple at age 2.

He said he traveled to Russia to find his mother and eventually met her on a TV show before deciding to move to Russia. Russian news agency Interfax has cited court officials as saying that Woodland also holds Russian citizenship.

Arrests of Americans in Russia have become increasingly common as relations between Moscow and Washington sink to Cold War lows. Washington accuses Moscow of targeting its citizens and using them as political bargaining chips, but Russian officials insist they all broke the law.

Some have been exchanged for Russians held in the U.S., while for others, the prospects of being released in a swap are less clear.

Woodland was arrested in January. At the time, the U.S. State Department said it was aware of reports of the recent detention of a U.S. citizen and noted that it “has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” but refrained from further comment, citing privacy considerations. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a similar statement at the time.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials on the verdict.

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