(AP) A Moscow court on Monday sentenced a U.S. pastor to more than three years in prison for smuggling hunting ammunition into Russia.
Phillip Miles, from Conway, S.C., has been in custody since his arrest on Feb. 3. He was arrested several days after customs agents at a Moscow airport found a box of 20 rifle shells in his luggage.
The court sentenced him to serve three years and two months in prison, with the sentence calculated from his detention date.
Miles has said he brought the .300 caliber cartridges for a friend who had recently bought a Winchester rifle. He said he did not know bringing such ammunition into Russia was illegal.
Judge Olga Drozdova accepted in her 20-minute summation that Miles had brought the ammunition for a friend, "as they are both inveterate hunters."
The cartridges were not initially found as he flew into Moscow. They were detected a day later as airport security put his luggage through an X-ray machine while he was on his way to check in for a flight to Perm, a city in Siberia.
Miles was dressed in a gray jacket and clerical collar for his sentencing.
"I'm very disappointed. It's a strange sentence for one box of hunting bullets," he said as court bailiffs led him in handcuffs from the courtroom cage, where defendants in Russian criminal courts are held during trial.
If what you were doing was that innocent, wouldn't you be smart to just "declare" the items and ask officials how to transport it to the friend BEFORE entering Russia? You know, something you could do by visiting their embassy or consulate?
And given what we know about air travel, how is it that someone still thinks getting on a plane with live ammunition is a good thing? Who is that stupid?
If you're curious, here's the Transportation Safety Administration site with their rules.
Airlines may have their own additional requirements on the carriage of firearms and the amount of ammunition that you may have in your checked baggage. Therefore, travelers should also contact the airline regarding its firearm and ammunition carriage policies.
Also, please note that many other countries have different laws that address transportation and possession of firearms. If you are traveling internationally, please check with the authorities at your destination about their requirements.