Congressman, father to visit Fulbright student in Russian jail
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut congressman and the father of a Fulbright scholar imprisoned in Russia left Monday to visit the student in jail.
John Tobin said when he visits his 24-year-old son John ”Jack” Tobin he will ”look him in the eye and see how he’s doing.”
”He’s been living in a bubble,” the elder Tobin said. ”He has no idea what’s going on. His community is 100 percent behind him.”
The younger Tobin is being held in Voronezh, about 300 miles south of Moscow, where he was sentenced to serve three years and one month in prison on drug charges.
Rep. James Maloney said he did not expect to be able to bring the younger Tobin back to the United States this week. Maloney said he and the elder Tobin will meet with officials of the U.S. embassy and the Fulbright scholarship program in Moscow. He said he also hoped to make Russian officials aware of the case’s importance.
Tobin, a native of Ridgefield, Conn., was doing political research at Voronezh State University when he was arrested outside a nightclub in January. Last month, he was convicted of obtaining, possessing and distributing marijuana.
Tobin’s supporters later released correspondence from him in which he alleged Russian authorities planted the marijuana on him to blackmail him into spying for them. Tobin attended elite military schools, and after his arrest Russian authorities said they believed he was a U.S. spy in training.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has raised the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
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