American Pastor Sentenced to Three Years in Russia for Smuggling Ammunition

Phillip Miles, of South Carolina, was sentenced by a Moscow court to more than three years in prison for smuggling hunting ammunition into Russia. He had brought a box of 20 rifle shells for a friend who had a Winchester rifle. Stupid to be sure, but three years?

Twenty .300 caliber cartridges hardly makes one an arm’s dealer, but Judge Olga Drozdova did not view the motivation as significant in reducing the sentence. She chose to sentence him under smuggling rather than simply the illegal possession of ammunition.”

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “American Pastor Sentenced to Three Years in Russia for Smuggling Ammunition”

  1. I don’t see any Padilla “illegal incarceration here”:

    On February 20, 2004, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the government’s appeal. The Supreme Court heard the case, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, in April 2004, but on June 28, 2004, the court dismissed the petition on technical grounds because:

    It was improperly filed in federal court in New York instead of South Carolina, where Padilla was actually being detained; and
    the Court held that the petition was incorrect in naming the Secretary of Defense as the respondent instead of the Commanding Officer of the naval brig who was Padilla’s actual custodian for habeas corpus purposes.

    The case was refiled and a decision in Padilla’s favor was issued in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. On June 13, 2005, the Supreme Court denied the government’s petition to have his case heard directly by the court, instead of the appeal being first heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

    On September 9, 2005, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that President Bush does indeed have the authority to detain Padilla without charges, in an opinion written by judge J. Michael Luttig. In the ruling, Luttig cited the joint resolution by Congress authorizing military action following the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as the June 2004 ruling concerning Yaser Hamdi. Attorneys for Padilla, plus a host of civil liberties organizations, argued that the detention was illegal. They said it could lead to the military holding anyone, from protesters to people who check out what the government considers the wrong books from the library. The Bush Administration denied the allegations.

    Don’t even try to bring up Hamdi as an argument. Maybe you forget the murder of Mike Spann at the prison Hamdi was held at………by Taliban & Taliban supporters held as illegal combatants, including Hamdi..

  2. Dunder,
    It looks like RCampbell beat me to it, but Jose Padilla was illegally incarcerated by the Bush Administration. But don’t forget the 17 U.S. Citizens held illegally after 9/11 through the misuse of the materal witness law. Not to mention Mr.Hamdi who was illegally held by George W. and later deported to Saudi Arabia and accordingto this linked article, at least one more citizen.

  3. Many years ago I got arrested in Russia, even though I had a stack of Get-out-of-jail cards. It was a long story but the policeman misread a situation. I got roughed up in the process and when I finally played trump – there was all to do to offer me the offending cop’s head on a platter. I opted instead to have him ordered to have dinner with me.
    I knew that would serve to protect him and raise his visibility in a positive way.

    Shocked and relieved, he accepted, and I learned more than I would have reading dozens of tomes from those before me. It also improved his career path instead of ending it.

    Soon I was to be a frequent guest at his flat – where he lived with his in-laws, wife and child. Their observations were priceless and were a dissertation in and of themselves from a vantage point few Americans were ever able enjoy.

  4. Again – time constraints – and apparently a touch of distemper preclude my patience today.

    I am much practical experience in Russia, before and after the US forced Gorbachev to abandon a slow move to Capitalism and assisted the Russian mob in propping up Boris Yeltsin, a Fyodor Dostoevsky character if ever there was one.

    Russians used to love Americans, even through the most stressful cold war diplomatic slug-fests. Now, they still adore our Country but there is much resentment about Americans. Having been, for the most part, scorned for religious devotion – they (generally speaking) don’t consider storefront American small “c” christians as legitimate. In fact, they view them as charlatans that are more akin to ‘elixir’ purveyors with a very distasteful and aggressive “American” message.

    It wouldn’t be out of the question to consider his status as a “Pastor” might have encouraged a little more fan-fare before diplomatic intervention runs its course. They have TV’s in Russia.

  5. Dunder

    It seems to me that even the GOP-stacked Supreme Court knew it had to tell the Bush administration that’s its holding of Jose Padilla without charges, bail, access to an attorney in an undisclosed location were ALL violations of American citizens’ due process.

  6. rafflaw: please name us a single American citizen that has illegally been incarcerated because of Bush’s war on terror. Please cite one, a real one, not a fictitious one. Just one…….

  7. Not even George W. Bush is so stupid to think that it is not a problem to bring rifle ammunition into a country without permission. This is a minister and/or pastor who is making this outrageous claim. Three years for the offense may seem harsh, but the court may be taking into account that he may have lied to the court about not knowing that bringing in ammunition was illegal. But at least he received a trial. How many people have the Bush Administration grabbed off the world’s streets and taken to black sites to be tortured without any due process? How long have people in Guantanemo been held without charges? Let’s put this into perspective. Plus, as Mespo has pointed out, the sentence may be reduced or commuted after the U.S. State Department is involved.

  8. The pastor had said that he was not aware that Russian laws differed from U.S. laws and that it was illegal to bring ammunition into the country. On Friday he had asked the court for mercy, citing his record of charitable work and his ignorance of Russian law, telling the court that he had brought the hunting ammunition as a gift for a friend.

    I would hardly feel inclinded to quote an article on this that called bringing a box of 20 hunting cartridges “smuggling”. Oh, this was the Daily Mail of the UK, where they confiscate BB GUNS!

  9. Certainly a severe sentence, but it does give new meaning to the classic phrase “praise God and pass (smuggle?) the ammunition.” I suspect, as in most cases involving US citizens, the sentence will be reduced or commuted once the US embassy gets involved. This is not exactly a Francis Gary Powers moment,and I suspect we’ll have no need for a meeting with our Russian counterparts midway across a bridge in Berlin.

    The defense that, I didn’t-know-it-was-illegal to smuggle ammo, does sort of ring hollow though. Even those who concern themselves with the complexities of journeying into the next world, usually know the rules of travel in this one.

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