RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) - In a letter home from a Russian prison, U.S. Fulbright scholar John Tobin claimed his trial on drug charges came after Russian authorities tried to recruit him as a spy.
``So what happened?'' Tobin, 24, wrote in a letter to his family and girlfriend explaining his arrest for marijuana possession and distribution. ``Well, the local authorities constructed a nice little setup that I fell for like an idiot, hook, line and sinker. So what now? I've rejected their offers to work for the local man. So I might have to sit here for a while.''
On Friday, Tobin's father showed portions of the letter to a reporter from The News-Times of Danbury, Conn. He said the letter was forwarded by the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
He has had the letter since March, he said, and is sharing it now because of his shock over his son's April 27 conviction on drug charges.
Police said Tobin had a small matchbox containing marijuana on him when he was arrested Jan. 26 at a local nightclub. He was convicted of obtaining, possessing and distributing the drug and was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
On Friday, his Russian lawyer filed an appeal.
Tobin's father said he has been told by the U.S. State Department that Secretary of State Colin Powell will discuss the situation when he meets with the Russian foreign minister May 14.
``So much of this has been absurd,'' said the father, also named John Tobin. ``I keep thinking my government can do more my government has not yet stepped up to the plate.''
He said he believes the Russians tried to recruit his son because he had some military intelligence training, spoke fluent Russian, attended the Defense Language Institute and was a member of the 325th Army Reserve military intelligence unit based in Waterbury.
``They grabbed him at the end of January because they were trying to get him to play ball: You are going to work for us, or you are going to sit in jail,'' he said.
His son, a Middlebury College graduate, was on a Fulbright scholarship at Voronezh State University, 300 miles south of Moscow, studying Russia's transition to democracy.