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What about Marc Fogel?

U.S. teacher Marc Fogel is doing labor in a Russian prison, but the state department has not publicly mentioned Fogel’s name.

Opinion by Kevin Khachatryan, Staff Writer

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s proposal to Russia to secure the release of Brittney Griner draws a stark contrast between the value of athletes versus teachers. While the public is outraged about Griner, the U.S. fails to even mention Marc Fogel’s name.

Like women’s basketball star Griner, Fogel is detained in a Russian prison after attempting to enter the country with marijuana. The history teacher has been detained since August 2021, compared to Griner’s 5 months.

“There’s a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that Marc will be left behind,” said Jane Fogel, wife of Marc Fogel to the Washington Post. “It's terrifying. I would hope that President Biden will realize the importance of including Marc in addition to Brittney Griner.”

The 61-year old history teacher taught at the Anglo-American School of Moscow for nearly a decade. Fogel was dealing with chronic pain for several decades, undergoing three back surgeries, a hip replacement and two knee surgeries. The Ohio native was detained on his way back into the country for carrying 17 grams of cannabis.

Griner has the support that Fogel lacks. Her fans and the basketball community have made it untenable that Griner remains in prison, but Fogel has no advocates with a real voice. At this rate, even if Fogel were the best teacher in the world, he would not be mentioned in a U.S. government press release.

In many ways, teachers are just as important as basketball players because they sacrifice time away from their families and children to help educate students. But, they are not seen to be in the same stratosphere as athletes because according to the Washington post, the ranking for teachers was seventh across the 35 nations. However, U.S. respondents ranked secondary school teachers far lower, the 12th lowest of all the countries.

School officials and teachers spend five to six hours minimum every day in a classroom every year, and are still underpaid for all the work they do.

The government is working hard to free Griner and trying to negotiate prisoner swaps between the two countries, but none of those swaps or offers have included Fogel’s name.

Both Griner and Fogel denied the intent to distribute it. Both claimed the drugs were prescribed for severe pain, but the Russian penal code makes no distinctions for prescribed cannabis, and now both face maximum punishments.

It looks like sooner or later Griner will be released before Fogel because of Biden’s discussions. Meanwhile, Fogel’s case has been dead in the water because a teacher is a disadvantage to the nation compared to an athlete.

“I’m still hoping that (the State Department) will reach out to my mom or my aunt to explain what the plan is,” said Fogel’s niece Kelly Leguinche to CBS News. “We’re desperate for some indication that they’re not just going to forget him.”

Both Fogel and Griner remain in prison. As of now, there is no discussion surrounding Fogel’s return.


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