MOSCOW (AP) _ John Tobin, the American Fulbright scholar imprisoned in Russia on a drug conviction, will be eligible to seek early release beginning Aug. 2, a prison spokesman said Thursday.

Tobin was convicted in April of obtaining, possessing and distributing drugs in Voronezh, a city 300 miles south of Moscow where he was studying at a university.

The 24-year-old Connecticut native was sentenced to 37 months in prison, but a higher court overturned the distribution conviction on appeal and reduced his sentence to one year.

Tobin has denied any wrongdoing and has said he was framed by Russian authorities after he refused to become a spy.

Anatoly Babkin, a Justice Ministry spokesman in Voronezh, said a commission will have to review Tobin's conduct behind bars and forward a recommendation to a regional court, which has the final say. No dates have been set for those proceedings, he said.

An appeal also has been submitted to the Russian Supreme Court.