A US citizen who played in several punk rock bands while living in Russia was arrested in Moscow on suspicion of drug trafficking.
According to NPR, Travis Michael Lake has been charged by the Khamovniki District Court in Moscow with selling mephedrone. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Leakey, a former US Army paratrooper, has lived in Moscow for nearly a decade. While living in Russia, he played in several punk bands, including the lead singer of Lovi Noch. In addition, he served as President of Red Decades Records, which looks to identify and grow “new and existing talents in the Russian market for wider distribution in the global market.”
Leake also appeared in a 2014 episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Unknown parts, where he expressed his frustration with censorship in Russia. “This was a documentary series about musicians standing up and risking their lives in some cases to stand up against government abuse of power and government corruption,” he said in the episode. However, a foreign government has managed to editorially control what American viewers see on television. This, to me, is a scandal of epic proportion.”
Lake denied the charge and told police, “I don’t understand why I’m here. I don’t plead guilty, I don’t think I could have done what I’m accused of because I don’t know what I’m accused of.”
A US State Department spokesman said officials were aware of Leakey’s detention. “The US State Department and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater priority than the safety and security of US citizens abroad,” the department said in a statement. “When a U.S. citizen is detained abroad, the Department will seek consular access as soon as possible and work to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
Lake is the third American held in Russia amid rising tensions with the United States. Last year, WNBA star Brittney Griner was jailed on drug charges and later released in a prisoner exchange. in March , Wall Street Journal Journalist Ivan Gershkovich was arrested on charges of espionage and remains in detention today.