A Marine who has been in a Russian prison for 30 months is pleading for his release.
Trevor Reed, a student at the University of North Texas, was arrested in August 2019 for an alleged “drunken incident” and was sentenced in July 2020 to nine years in prison.
According to charges, Reed was sentenced for endangering Russian police officers’ “life and health” in an altercation after a night of drinking. Reed denies all charges.
Reed’s parents, Paula and Joey Reed, hope that the recent summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will help bring about the release of their son.
“He’s being held as a pawn to try and leverage concessions in a political dispute between our two countries in which he has no part, and it’s time to let him come home to Texas,” the Reeds wrote in a statement.
Trevor Reed was in Russia to visit his girlfriend Lina Tsybulnik and learn the language. Instead, according to authorities, after a drunken evening, he allegedly grabbed one police officer and elbowed another one.
Health at risk
Reed contracted coronavirus in prison and wrote a letter to his family that he had pain in his lungs, high blood pressure, had been coughing, and lost weight.
The letter, dated June 7, was handwritten by Reed in Russian per the prison’s conditions. Tsybulnik translated the letter for Reed’s family.
After receiving the letter, the Reed family said, “Throughout his captivity, Russian authorities have gone out of their way not to provide Trevor with basic health care, and given that, the news about Trevor having pain in his lungs has us terribly worried.”
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow called for more access to Reed for his family.
“For the last three weeks, we have respectfully asked the Russian government to allow Trevor to call us and allow the embassy to visit him to no avail, and we’d like to ask President Putin to let us speak to Trevor, restore his access to send and receive letters,” the embassy said.
While calling for his release, John Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, has called Reed’s imprisonment and conviction “ridiculous” and a “theater of the absurd.”
In a recently released 13-second message Reed, 29, asked President Biden to secure his release.
“I spent my whole life in the service of my country, and I would appreciate it if my country would help to bring me home in this difficult situation back to my family,” Reed said.
Reed protected Biden at Camp David
The Reeds believe that their son is being targeted because of his military career. He has served at the Marine barracks in Washington, D.C., and Camp David during the Obama administration.
Part of his duties included protecting then-VP Biden during his Camp David visits.
“Trevor is not a criminal, and anyone who knows him would find that notion ridiculous. He is an Eagle Scout who was selected to be an elite Presidential Guard in the Marines soon after enlisting,” said Reed’s parents.
Another former Marine, Paul Whelan, is held in Russian and was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison on espionage charges.
Whelan denies the charges and says that he was in Russia to attend the wedding of a friend who he met during his time in the Marine Corps. His brother, David Whelan, has said that his brother’s condition remains “bleak.”