This statement is from Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Michael Driscoll:

“Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an editorial by Mrs. Malphine Fogel, mother of IUP alumnus Marc Fogel, who has been jailed in Russia since August 2021.

Congressman Guy Reschenthaler, Senators John Fetterman and Bob Casey and a number of other legislators have worked tirelessly to get Marc Fogel declared wrongfully detained by the State Department, including inserting the Fogel Report language in the final FY24 Minibus bill.

I join Mrs. Fogel’s hope that this editorial will come to the attention of President Biden, who is in Pittsburgh on the second day of a three-day Pennsylvania campaign swing. 

The IUP community continues to stand with Marc Fogel and his family during his long arduous journey.  Marc could not have a better advocate than his mother, whose words in her editorial are heartbreaking and well-reasoned. I have been and continue to be proud to know her and to work with her. We must do everything we can to bring Marc home,” President Driscoll said.

Marc Fogel, a native of Butler, is a 1984 social studies education graduate of IUP. He taught history courses at schools attended by children of US diplomats in Colombia, Venezuela, Oman, and Malaysia. The last nine years before his arrest were spent teaching at the Anglo-American School in Moscow. He has been in Russian custody since August 2021. He turned 62 on July 28, 2023, while in a Russian prison.

The text of Mrs. Fogel’s editorial, as shared with President Driscoll by Mrs. Fogel, is below. 

President Biden, please work for my son's freedom as hard as you worked for Brittney Griner's

I am the mother of Marc Fogel. Marc grew up in Butler and received his teaching degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He then traveled the world teaching American history to high school children of Americans who served in foreign service posts.

Russia was his last teaching assignment. Marc and his family went there in 2012 and he taught there for nine school years. He planned to spend his tenth and final school year in Moscow and then retire.

Medicine for a failing body

Marc turned 60 in August 2021. Pain from three back, two knee, one hip replacement and one rotary cuff surgeries did not diminish his passion for teaching, but his body was failing. Opioid treatment was not an option — western Pennsylvania bore too many tragic lessons.

Marc’s doctor prescribed medical marijuana. He took some back to Russia. Marc was arrested on August 14, 2021, at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for carrying approximately a half ounce of marijuana in his luggage.

It was the beginning of his 10th year in Russia and 36 years into his teaching career. Our family reached out to the State Department. We were told to stay quiet. We were told they would handle it. We did what they said.

Six months later, Brittney Griner was arrested for the same offense as Marc. After two and a half months with Ms. Griner making front page news and the president and secretary of state Antony Blinken reassuring Ms. Griner, her family and her supporters, the U.S. State Department designated her as “wrongfully detained,” opening greater avenues to American aid for securing her release and prioritizing her for prisoner swaps.

My family watched with hope. We were hopeful that, even though Marc was not getting public attention, the president and State Department had not forgotten him, and that given the identical circumstances of Marc and Ms. Griner’s cases, if she came home, so would he.

Parallel cases, different responses

When Marc and Ms. Griner were tried in 2023 under the same exact Russian statute, Marc received a 14-year and Ms. Griner received a nine-year sentence, since Marc had a slightly larger substance amount. There were no surprise charges at Marc’s trial. Marc and Ms. Griner both pled guilty to drug possession. The cases were parallel.

Marc didn’t have the stature or the fame of being a WNBA player, but our family and the State Department had received hundreds of letters from his former students, their parents, fellow faculty, friends, family, and people who experienced and were aware of his enthusiasm for teaching and his love of America.

On December 8, 2022, when President Biden held a press conference to announce that Ms. Griner was being released in a prisoner swap with Russia, our family watched with the rest of the world. It was a slow-motion blur.

To be sure, we cheered Ms. Griner’s release. She did not deserve her harsh and unjust punishment. No American does. But it was bittersweet. Marc’s name was never uttered. President Biden, a proud son of Pennsylvania, forgot my son of Pennsylvania.

When our family received a report from the American Embassy in Russia about Marc’s condition after finding out that he was not released with Ms. Griner, it was heartbreaking. Between his debilitating health and the news, he was a broken man. During any family communication with him, he never shares any hardship he is experiencing.

We are now almost three years into Marc’s imprisonment. Three American citizens (without dual Russian status) remain detained in Russia. Talks of another prisoner swap with Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan are being reported.

Mr. Gershkovich was designated as “wrongfully detained” by our State Department two and half weeks after he was arrested, and Mr. Whelan has the status. The State Department refuses to designate Marc as “wrongfully detained” even though his detention circumstances are exactly the same as Ms. Griner’s.

I may never see him again

Neither President Biden nor Secretary of State Blinken have ever acknowledged Marc publicly. They do not say his name.

A cloud shrouds Marc, created by the President’s and Secretary’s avoidance and their choice to ignore the herculean efforts our family has undertaken to bring him home. Their avoidance has rendered him almost invisible and our family powerless to advocate for him, because we are not important enough to get their attention, and by concurrence national media coverage.

My son may never see his beloved Pittsburgh or America again. I am 95 years old. I may never see my son again. I do not want him to be forgotten. He may be just a regular guy from Western Pennsylvania, but he has made a world of difference to his students, colleagues, friends and, of course, his family.

I want him to know that I fought for him every day I could.

Mr. President, please say my son’s name.  Bring him home. 

Malphine Fogel, from Butler, Pa., is the mother of Marc Fogel, an American prisoner in Russia.