US citizen detained on drug charges in Moscow identified as rock band manager Travis Leake


A US citizen has been detained in Russia, according to a Telegram statement from Moscow’s courts of general jurisdiction.

The man was detained on Saturday where “the Khamovniki District Court of Moscow took a preventive measure against an American citizen,” it said.

A court statement identified the man as “Travis Michael Leek” – a spelling of his name that has since been disputed.

“The former paratrooper and musician is accused of engaging in the narcotics business through attracting young people,” the statement said.

It added that he had appeared at the Khamovniki District Court of Moscow on June 10 and will remain in custody until August 6, 2023.

CNN reached out to the man’s family in the United States and was told by his mother that she was aware of the reports of her son’s detention.

She said his name was Michael Travis Leake – spelled differently from the Russian court statement – and he went by the name of Travis.

The US State Department on Saturday said it was aware of reports of the detention of a US citizen but declined to comment further, citing privacy considerations.

“We are aware of reports of the recent arrest of a US citizen in Moscow,” a State Department spokesperson said.

“When a US citizen is detained overseas, the department pursues consular access as soon as possible and works to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

Video of Leake’s arrest from his home and a mugshot from a Russian police station were published on Russian media outlets on June 8.

Ren TV, a tabloid outlet, reported Leake’s statements to police in which he reportedly said: “I don’t understand why I’m here. I don’t admit guilt, I don’t believe I could have done what I’m accused of because I don’t know what I’m accused of.”

Interviewed by Bourdain

CNN filmed with Leake in 2014 for an episode of Parts Unknown in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Host Anthony Bourdain had personally handpicked Leake to participate in the show.

In the episode, Leake talked about his frustrations with censorship and relayed an incident involving his band and MTV. “This was a documentary series about musicians standing up and risking their lives in some cases, to stand up against government abuse of power, government corruption,” he said. “And yet, a foreign government was able to editorially control what Americans viewers see on their TV screens. That to me is a scandal of epic proportion.”

Darya Tarasova, who had produced the episode, said the “band wasn’t that famous but Travis and his friends had been very vocal about the freedom of speech and state oppression in Russia. “Bourdain really liked that interview,” she said.

“Travis was a showman – very articulate and he loved Russia,” Tarasova added. “Bands from the Moscow rock scene would go to him to write songs in English for them and proof read their lyrics,” she said.

“The last time we spoke was in 2018 and he seemed depressed and upset, but Travis would never do the things he is being accused of. He is an American in Russia and is very aware of the situation he’s in. But I’m surprised he stayed after the war started as it was very risky for him.”

Social media accounts and videos confirmed by a CNN reporter show Leake as a frontman in Lovi Noch, which translates to “Catch the Night.”

He was also a music producer for other Russian music groups during his time in Moscow.

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