Ex-US marine goes on hunger strike in Russian jail

Ex-US marine Trevor Reed, 30, goes on hunger strike in protest at being put in solitary confinement in Russian jail without medical help despite fears he has tuberculosis and is coughing up blood

  • American Trevor Reed is languishing in a Russian gulag in poor health and a lack of medical attention provided by the prison authorities
  • He was sentenced to nine years hard labour by a Russian court in 2019 that the US called a ‘theatre of the absurd’, with his parents calling him a ‘political bargaining chip’ 
  • The ex-US Marine’s health is believed to be in peril due to being placed in a cell with a prisoner carrying tuberculosis
  • President Biden has said he is committed to doing ‘everything he can’ to bringing Trevor home, but has so far failed to meet with his parents

Ex-US Marine Trevor Reed has gone on hunger strike in Russian prison after his jailors locked him away in solitary confinement, refusing him medical treatment while it is feared that he has tuberculosis, his parents have said.

Reed, 30, from Texas, is serving a nine year jail sentence in a penal colony 217 miles east in Mordovia after being convicted in a Russian court of endangering the lives of two policemen while drunk on a visit to Moscow in 2019, in a trial the US called a ‘theatre of the absurd’. 

The hunger strike comes at a time when Reed’s health is believed to be in peril due to being placed in a cell with a prisoner carrying tuberculosis. Despite deteriorating health and Reed coughing up blood, the prison authorities have refused to test him for the disease.

Joey and Paula Reed have been campaigning to raise awareness for their son, who they say is unjustly incarcerated in a Russian gulag for a phony offence and is in reality a geopolitical pawn between Russia and the US

Trevor Reed has been in the IK-12 gulag in Mordovia for over two years. He was arrested on the night of August 16, 2019, after a night of drinking and celebrating. Russian officials say that he grabbed the arm of an arresting officer as he was driving Trevor to the police station, causing the car to swerve and ‘endangering the lives of two policemen’

The Reed family provided this photo of Trevor Reed with his mother Paula when he was stil serving in the US Marines. He travelled to Russia in the summer os 2019 to visit his Russian girlfriend and study Russian

His parents, Joey and Paula Reed, reported earlier in March that their son had been couching up blood. He was moved to a prison hospital for ten days but was then returned to his cell ‘meaningful medical care beyond an X-ray which was taken incorrectly’, they said.

‘Trevor’s Mordovian lawyer was able to see him (on Tuesday) and confirmed that Trevor began a hunger strike… to protest being sent back to solitary while injured and having TB,’ the parents said in a statement.

‘Soon after he returned, Trevor asked authorities at the IK-12 gulag to return to the hospital. Instead, authorities returned him to solitary confinement,’ they said.

Both parents recently wore ‘Free Trevor Reed’ t-shirts while protesting outside the White House

The parents protested in Lafayette Square near the White House after so far having failed to gain an audience with Joe Biden to discuss the release of their son from a Russian gulag

Reed’s family revealed that Reed had previously spent time in solitary confinement for refusing to do hard labor. 

Trevor had been spending the summer of 2019 in Russia, visiting his girlfriend and studying Russian. However, just days before his return to the US a night out in Moscow sent everything spinng into chaos.

According to the Russian version of events, on the night of August 16, Reed was arrested after he got drunk and allegedly grabbed the arm of an officer as he was being taken to a station to be booked, causing the vehicle to swerve and ‘endangering the lives of officers’.

At the time, the US ambassador dismissed the allegation as ‘preposterous’ and noted that video evidence showed no swerving.

He currently resides in a cell in the penal colony, in extremely poor conditions, according to the family, who say his cell does not even include a toilet and that he did not receive any items that had been brought to him by U.S. ambassador John Sullivan.

Joey and Paula Reed pose with a portrait of their son Marine veteran and Russian prisoner Trevor Reed at their home in Fort Worth, Texas,

Trevor Reed posing for a photo at the Moscow Zoo during his summer in Russia in happier times before his arrest and incarceration

Joey and Paula Reed have been protesting outside the White House to raise awareness of their son’s plight, for which they regard him as being used as a ‘political bargaining chip’  by the Kremlin in future negotiations with the US.

President Biden is aware of Trevor Reed’s situation and has already pledged his commitment to the former marine’s parents to ‘do everything he can to bring their son home, to stay in close touch with them through his national security team and to finding a time to meet in person,’ according to a White House official. 

So far though the president has failed to find time to meet with Trevor Reed’s parents. 

This is the second hunger strike Reed has staged, coming on the heels of the one last year, which was motivated by his unjust incarceration and alleged human rights abuses he had suffered at the hands of the Russian penal system in his gulag.

He called it off almost a week later having lost weight. Russia’s prison authority denied he had been refusing food or that his rights were being violated. 

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