Robert Woodland, right, a Russia-born US 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.

Robert Woodland, a Russia-born US citizen, was convicted of drug-related charges by a Moscow court and sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison on Thursday, July 4, 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 maximum security penal colony. There was no immediate comment from US officials on the verdict.

His lawyers told reporters after the verdict was delivered on 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 US 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 further deteriorate. 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 US, while for others, the prospects of being released in a swap are less clear.

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

Le Monde with AP

Reuse this content