American musician arrested in Moscow on drugs suspicion

MOSCOW (AP) — An American musician who has lived in Russia for more than a decade has been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, Russian news media reported Saturday.

The reports said Michael Travis Leake is suspected of selling mephedrone, whose effects are similar to those of cocaine and MDMA. A Moscow court ordered him to be held for two months in pre-trial detention, the reports said.

He faces charges of production or distribution of drugs, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

An Instagram page under the name Travis Leake Instagram identifies him as the singer for the band Lovi Noch (Seize the Night). News reports said Leake is a former paratrooper with the U.S. military and has lived in Moscow since 2010.

Russian drug laws are strict. WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested in February 2022 after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at a Moscow airport. She was sentenced to nine years in prison, but was released in December in an exchange for U.S.-imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The U.S. State Department said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that it was aware of the reports that a U.S. citizen had recently been arrested in Moscow. It said when a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the department “pursues consular access as soon as possible and works to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

The department said it would have no further comment due to privacy considerations.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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