Former Marine jailed in Russia pleas for release, says he would 'appreciate if my country' would bring me home

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A former Marine from Texas jailed in a Russian prison is asking the Biden administration to help bring him home following nearly two years of detention in which he contracted COVID-19 and has had limited contact with his family. 

In a 13-second message released Tuesday, Trevor Reed, 29, a Fort Worth native, asked for President Biden to help get him released as he continues to languish in a Russian detention center. 

“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 in the recording. 

Police officers escort US ex-marine Trevor Reed, charged with attacking police, into a courtroom prior to a March 11, 2020 hearing in Moscow. In a newly released recording from prison, Reed asked for American officials to help bring him home. (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)
(ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The message came on the eve of Wednesday’s summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switerzland. The meeting was the first face-to-face gathering between the two leaders since Biden became president and comes during a low in American-Russian relations. 

Among many issues the pair discussed, the imprisonment of Reed and another former Marine, Paul Whelan, was an area of concern. 

“I raised the case of two wrongfully imprisoned American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed,” Biden said during a news conference following the summit. 

A spokesperson for the Reed family declined to comment on the matter to Fox News. Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, said he was pleased with the summit and remains cautiously optimistic. 

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdict in a courtroom Moscow Court. (Moscow News Agency/AP)

“I think we’ve just been waiting to see what the catalyst could be (for his brother’s freedom) and I think the summit is the catalyst that we’ve been waiting for,” he told Fox News. 

Whelan was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison on espionage charges and remains in a prison labor camp. He denies the charges and said he was in Russia to attend the wedding of a friend from his time in the Marines. David Whelan said his brother’s condition sounded “bleak.” 

The loved ones of both men appealed to the Biden administration in the days leading up to the summit to seek their release. 

Reed, a student at the University of North Texas, was arrested in August 2019 following a drunken incident in Moscow. He was in Russia to visit his girlfriend and to learn the language. Authorities said he grabbed a police officer as he was driving and elbowed another. 

He has denied the charges. 

Trevor Reed wrote his family a letter in Russian dated June 7 from Russian detention.
(Courtesy of Joey and Paula Reed)

Once was he detained, he was taken to a police station to sober up. Things seemed fine until authorities learned of his military background, his father, Joey Reed, told Fox News. That piqued the attention of Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, which then conducted its own interrogation. 

John Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, called Reed’s conviction “ridiculous” and an example of the “theater of the absurd.”

In a June 7 letter to his family written in Russian, as per the rules of the Russian prison system, Reed said he had health issues from testing positive for COVID-19. 

“I’ve got mediocre pain in my lungs. Also, I suffer from [a] cough from time to time,” according to a translation of the letter by Reed’s girlfriend, Lina Tsybulnik, his parents said. “We aren’t allowed to have walks.”

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrive to meet at the ‘Villa la Grange’, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

When asked about Reed’s imprisonment during an interview with NBC News, Putin called him a “drunk” and “troublemaker” who “got himself s—faced and started a fight.”

“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,” Joey Reed told Fox News on Tuesday. 

The Russian leader also said he would be amenable to a prisoner swap in an effort to free Russian citizens jailed in the United States. 

“We don’t care how it happens,” Reed’s mother, Paula Reed, previously told Fox News. “We just want him home.”

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