Family of local teacher imprisoned in Russia speaking out after Brittney Griner’s release

PITTSBURGH — The family of a local teacher detained in Russia wants to know why he’s not on the plane back to America with Brittney Griner.

Marc Fogel and Griner both were charged with marijuana-related offenses in Russia.

While Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap, Fogel remains in a Russian prison. Now, his family is looking to Griner to use her platform to get him home.

“I almost have to remain hopeful,” said Anne Fogel, Marc’s sister. “The news comes on automatically and I heard the news that Brittney was released and just kind of waiting for the ‘and’ but it didn’t come.”

When Anne Fogel heard the news about Griner’s release from a Russian prison, she thought her brother’s name could have been next.

Fogel is from Oakmont, and has been in a Russian detention center for a year and a half, on very similar charges to Brittany Griner.

“It’s distressing,” Anne said. “Marc has been in prison for 16 months, this is the second Christmas he has missed. I have a 93-year-old mom who really would like to see her son.”

As Anne struggles to keep the hope, a University of Pittsburgh political scientist thinks more negotiations could be down the road.

“It’s clear that Putin is upping the ante here. He wants more than what the U.S. has offered,” explained Jennifer Murtazashvili. “And the U.S. clearly thought this was a final deal because they were willing to offer a very high profile person in return. I would imagine Russia reneged at the last minute saying Fogel is off the table, so I think there is something else that the way want.”

She predicts it could be another Russian prisoner that the U.S. has in custody, or another option could be something related to the war in Ukraine.

Anne is now looking to Griner as someone who could help get her brother back to the states.

“I would like to ask her to please use the giant platform that she so deserves to help get Paul [Whelan] and Marc out of Russia,” Anne said.

Anne says their attorney tells them they need to get Marc designated as unlawfully detained, and that could help get him home.

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