Amid the war in Ukraine, a US Marine detained by Russia faces urgent health needs
The fate of Trevor Reed hangs in the balance amid heightened tensions between the US and Russia, where the 30-year-old former US Marine has been held on spurious charges for more than two and a half years.
But now, amid a stalled push to secure his release, Reed’s health is dangerously deteriorating, according to his family, with fears he may have contracted tuberculosis in the remote penal colony where he is being held without direct communication with his family for nearly eight months. now.
“We are desperately worried for Trevor’s health — our son has run out of time, and the [Biden] The administration must act now,” Joey and Paula Reed said in a statement Thursday.
Reed was exposed to tuberculosis through close contact in December and he told a lawyer who turned himself in on Wednesday that he was coughing up blood several times a day, had pain in his lungs and thought he had a fever, said said the Reed family.
Russian authorities have refused to give him a TB test or access to medication, phone calls to his family or even written communications with his lawyers in recent weeks, they added.
Reed and another former Marine, Paul Whelan, spent years in Russian custody on charges that their families and US officials say were fabricated by Russia in order to seize them as bargaining chips.
“For several months now, we’ve been asking for a meeting with our president. Our son’s job in the Marines was to take a bullet for then-Vice President Biden, and Trevor now fears he’s been left behind. by the government, he spent all of his time in the service of adult life,” Joey and Paula Reed said.
Pleading with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, they added, “One military parent group to another, we need your help. Only you can save his life!”
Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin discussed the detention of the two Americans and the possibility of a prisoner swap to release them at their summit in Switzerland last June, but a deal never materialized.
In July, a month after that summit, Reed was moved to a prison camp in Mordovia, an area about 350 miles from Moscow. Whelan spent over a year and a half at a camp in the same area.
Reed fell into the hands of Russian police in the summer of 2019 following a drunken night out in Moscow visiting his girlfriend.
Police initially said they were taking him to a post to sober up, but after agents from Russia’s FSB intelligence agency arrived to question him, Reed was charged with assaulting a police officer, according to his family. He was tried on charges that US officials called absurd. In July 2020, a court sentenced Reed to nine years in prison.
Reed, whose family lives in Texas, spent nearly two years held in pretrial prisons in Moscow. But last June a court rejected his appeal, clearing the way for his transfer to a prison camp. That was about the last time they heard directly from their son, the family said.
“We told him to stay strong, we’re going to fight for him,” Paula Reed told a press conference last week, her voice full of emotion.
The Biden administration has declared Reed and Whelan’s release a priority, and US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan has visited Reed and Whelan in Mordovia twice, driving eight hours from Moscow in an armored vehicle to meet the two men and report to their families.
As US and Western sanctions against Russia have intensified, the Reeds fear that any hope of negotiating his release may fade. Calls to sever diplomatic ties in particular could prevent the family from learning about Trevor’s condition, they said.
“We have to leave these embassies in these countries because we need to have direct lines of communication,” Joey Reed told a news conference last week.
Whelan, 51, was a security manager for auto parts company BorgWarner when he was arrested in late December 2018 in his hotel room by FSB agents while traveling to Moscow for the wedding of a friend. He was charged with espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a closed trial on charges his family and US officials said were fabricated.
Early in their detention, Russia suggested exchanging Reed and Whelan for Russians serving prison sentences in the United States.
Since 2019, Russian officials have named several Russians they would like to see released, including Viktor Bout, one of the world’s most notorious arms traffickers, and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot jailed for drug trafficking. Russian state media recently shed light on another Russian citizen imprisoned in the United States, Roman Seleznev, who is serving a 27-year sentence for hacking.
Bout’s release was seen as a failure by US officials due to the severity of his crimes. But Yaroshenko and Seleznev are seen as more likely to be included in any trade.
Yaroshenko was arrested in a 2010 Drug Enforcement Administration sting in Liberia in which he agreed to ship cocaine to Africa and the United States. He is serving a 20-year sentence.
Seleznev was captured by US law enforcement agents in the Maldives in 2014 and convicted of running a massive hacking scheme to steal credit card data from small businesses in the United States.
The three men are suspected of having links with the Russian secret services. During Seleznev’s trial, prosecutors provided documents alleging that Seleznev had been tipped off about a previous FBI investigation against him by Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, after FBI agents met with the Russian agency. .