The parents of Trevor Reed, an American who has been imprisoned in Russia for almost two years, revealed for the first time on Thursday that their son served as a Marine presidential guard – a fact they believe led Russia to target him for what they say is wrongful detention.
Joey and Paula Reed told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that they felt it was time to speak out about Trevor’s past military career, which they said included assignments at the Marine barracks in Washington, DC, and Camp David under the Obama administration.
“We believe this is one of the main reasons why he was held by the Russians,” Joey Reed said, adding that his son was questioned by Russia’s Federal Security Service about his military service.
CNN has reached out to the Russian embassy for comment.
A Russian court sentenced Trevor Reed to nine years in prison in July 2020 for endangering “life and health” of Russian police officers in an altercation after a night of drinking. Reed and his family have denied the charges and US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan called the trial “theater of the absurd.”
Although the Reeds said they were able to speak with Trevor on Thursday morning, they remain concerned about their son’s longterm health and wellbeing.
“He’s healthy right now,” Joey Reed told CNN. “Emotionally, he’s obviously concerned that he’s going to be there for another eight years, but otherwise he’s doing OK.”
“I do have a lot of sleepless nights. So, some days I’m hardly able to function,” Paula Reed said. “All day long I worry about things, about Trevor. Mostly I worry about the time that’s being taken away from him.”
They are hoping the Biden administration will be able to secure Trevor’s release, and Paula and Joey spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in early February.
Blinken “said he was going to work hard, of course, to bring Trevor home and at every opportunity they could discuss bringing Trevor home with the Russians, they would do that,” Paula Reed said.
Resolutions calling for Reed’s release are pending in the House and Senate. Last month, Texas Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, participated in a virtual press conference with Reed’s parents to call attention to the case.
“The charges against Trevor are politically motivated and he is trapped in a sham process,” McCaul and Pfluger told CNN in a joint statement. “We cannot tolerate American citizens being held as political pawns any longer. We call on President Putin to release Trevor immediately and send him home to his family.”
Reed was in Moscow City Court on March 26 for an appeal hearing. He now faces an imminent transfer to the Serbsky Institute, Russia’s main psychiatric clinic, for a court-ordered inpatient examination that could last up to four weeks. The facility is known for serving as a covert detention center for political dissidents in the Soviet period.
Weeks before his appeal hearing, Reed was transferred without notice to a different pre-detention center. According to family spokesperson Jonathan Franks, Reed was held in Butyrka prison’s psychiatric ward with accused murderers and barred from communication channels for nine days. Contact resumed after Reed was been transferred back to SIZO-5 detention center.
According to a State Department spokesperson, the US Embassy visited Trevor Reed at SIZO-5 on March 22. It was Sullivan’s fourth visit to see him.
Sullivan, who has called Reed’s detention a “mockery of justice,” also attended the court proceedings.
“I’ve been following Trevor’s case very closely and I’m very disturbed by how he’s been treated,” Sullivan told the press. “He’s doing as well as possibly could be expected under the circumstances, and it says a lot about his resilience and his character as a human being.”