The parents of a former US Marine currently languishing in a Russian prison spoke out Tuesday on the eve of a summit between President Biden and his Moscow counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Texas native Trevor Reed was arrested in August 2019 and charged with endangering the lives of two police officers after he got blackout drunk at a party. He was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020.
“We’re hoping that they can come to some kind of agreement whether it be an early release for Trevor or a prisoner swap. We really don’t know what the options that are going to be put on the table,” Reed’s mother, Paula, told Fox News. “We don’t care how it happens. We just want him home.”
Reed’s advocates say the officers he was accused of assaulting changed their testimony throughout his trial. They also suggest that Reed was drugged during the party, which he attended with his Russian girlfriend. The girlfriend, Alina Tsibulnik, has claimed that Reed showed signs of having been beaten up after he was taken to the police station.
Joey Reed, Trevor’s father, told Fox he believes Russian authorities view his son as a “bargaining chip” due to his military service, which included stints standing guard at the presidential retreat at Camp David.
“There’s a lot of Russians here in American prisons that are not here for major crimes,” Joey Reed said of the idea of a prisoner swap. “Do you realize how many foreign citizens are in American prisons and we’re paying literally millions of dollars to house them and keep them instead of just deporting them?”
“To us, it’s unbecoming of a world leader to speak like that about … a private citizen but especially about a foreign citizen who we know is innocent,” Reed’s father told Fox News.
Reed is not the only former Marine to be locked up in Russia. Paul Whelan was arrested and accused of espionage in January 2018. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in June 2020.
Earlier this week, Whelan’s family released an audio statement from their relative in which he implored Biden to “bring this appalling case of hostage diplomacy to an end.”
“I remain innocent,” Whelan said. “No crime of espionage occurred. The secret trial, without evidence, proves those facts.”
Meanwhile, Fox News reported Reed — who tested positive for COVID-19 last month — described his current situation in a letter to his family dated June 7.
“I’ve got mediocre pain in my lungs. Also, I suffer from [a] cough from time to time,” the letter reads, according to a Russian translation provided by Tsibulnik. “We aren’t allowed to have walks.
If Biden does bring up Reed’s case, he is unlikely to get a sympathetic hearing from Putin, who referred to Reed in a recent NBC News interview as a “drunk and a troublemaker” who “got himself s—faced and started a fight.”
However, when asked in the same interview if he was open to a prisoner swap, the Russian leader replied: “Yes, of course.”
With Post wires