U.S. citizen and musician Michael Travis Leake has been detained in Russia
A U.S. musician who helped produce music for Russian bands has been arrested in Moscow on suspicion of drug trafficking, according to reports by Russian state media on Saturday.
The Khamovniki District Court of Moscow accused Travis Michael Leek of organizing a drug trafficking business "involving young people," according to Russia's Interfax news agency. Russian media reported that he is suspected of selling the drug mephedrone — an offense for which he could face as much as 20 years in prison.
Social media accounts associated with the singer refer to him as "Travis Leake," and his mother told CNN that his name was Michael Travis Leake. CNN reported that Leake appeared in court on June 10 and will remain in custody until Aug. 6 in pre-trial detention.
The general court of jurisdiction in Moscow identified Leake as a former paratrooper with the U.S. military, Interfax said.
According to LinkedIn, Leake has been the lead vocalist and producer of the Moscow-based group, Lovi Noch, for over five years. He was also a lyricist and back-up vocals for multiple Russian punk rock bands.
Leake's LinkedIn also showed that he was the president of Red Decades Records, a company looking to identify and cultivate "new and existing talent in the Russian marketplace for wider distribution in a world market."
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said officials were aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in Moscow, adding that the department "has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad." The agency declined to provide further details, citing privacy considerations.
Leake's detention comes less than three months since Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested on suspicion of espionage. Gershkovich is slated to remain in a Moscow prison in pre-trial detention until at least Aug. 30. Both he and the Wall Street Journal have vehemently denied the allegations against him, noting that Gershkovich was an accredited journalist working in Russia when he was arrested.
Last year, WNBA star Brittney Griner was also arrested in Moscow on drug-related charges and sentenced to nine years in prison after Russian authorities found cannabis vape canisters in her luggage. Griner had a medical marijuana card in Arizona to help her cope with injuries sustained over years of competition, and told a Russian court the incident was "an honest mistake." She spent 10 months in Russian detention until she was released in a prisoner swap in December.
NPR's Joe Hernandez contributed reporting. contributed to this story
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