US citizen sentenced to 12 years in Russian prison

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US citizen sentenced to 12 years in Russian prison

Russia sentenced a U.S. citizen to 12½ years in a maximum-security prison Thursday on charges that he was attempting to sell drugs.

Court officials said in a statement that Robert Woodland, a Russian-born U.S. citizen, was part of an organized group that was trafficking large amounts of illegal drugs.

Woodland’s lawyers told The Associated Press that they plan to file an appeal because their client’s guilt has not been proved and he has mental health issues. The lawyers did not provide details about Woodland’s mental health challenges.

Russian media report that Woodland’s name matches a U.S. citizen who was interviewed on a Russian TV show in 2020 and said he was born in Russia in 1991 and was adopted by an American couple when he was 2. Woodland, according to Russian media, traveled to Russia to meet his birth mother, whom he eventually reunited with on a Russian television show. Woodland appears to hold both U.S. and Russian citizenship, according to Russian media reports.

Woodland joins a long line of Americans who have been arrested by Russia in recent years amid dwindling relations between the two nations. Washington has warned Americans in Russia to leave the country or risk wrongful detentions and harassment from Russia’s security services.

The U.S. has accused Russia of using U.S. citizens as political bargaining chips, but Russia maintains that the U.S. citizens were arrested because they broke laws.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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