A former United States Marine who has been detained by Russian authorities has gone on hunger strike in protest of his prison conditions, according to his family.
Trevor Reed, 30, has not eaten since his strike began on Nov. 4, his Russian girlfriend told ABC.
The protest puts immense pressure on the Biden administration, who has failed to negotiate terms for Reed’s release as his family grow frustrated and impatient that not enough is being done to bring him home.
The Texas native has been locked up in Russia for over two years for allegedly assaulting two Russian police officers while he was blackout drunk at a party in 2019.
He was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 for charges his family believes have been fabricated in order to use him a a political “bargaining chip.”
The sentencing was upheld in Russian court in July of this year.
Through Reed’s Russian attorney, his family confirmed to ABC that the ex-soldier is protesting “his arbitrary detention and Russian authorities’ numerous and flagrant violations of his basic human rights and his rights under Russian law.”
His parents said their son has been in solitary confinement for three months and has not been able to contact them for four months
Reed, a former Marine presidential guard, has been in a labor camp in Russia’s Mordovia region for months, where he is confined to a tiny cell that does not even include a toilet, according to his family. They said that items that U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan brought Reed when he visited were never given to him.
“While we are immensely proud of our son’s strength of character, we are also extremely worried about his health,” his parents Joey and Paula and sister Taylor said in a statement Monday. Reed was hospitalized with COVID-19 in May.
“Our concern is magnified by Russian authorities’ decision to hold Trevor incommunicado which makes it impossible for us or the Embassy to monitor his health,” they said.
The family had hoped that Biden’s meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin would have opened discussion into a possible exchange of prisoners, which never occurred. They met again with officials from the State Department, the National Security Council and Department of Justice to try and make a deal, which also fell through.
The family has proposed the U.S. exchange two prisoners whom Russia wanted freed for more than a decade: arms trader Viktor Bout, also known as “Merchant of Death” for his dealings and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot who was extradited from Liberia in 2010 and convicted the next year of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
Reed’s family told ABC that they are not aware of any continuing talks between the countries regarding Reed’s freedom, and are growing impatient with the current administration.
“This ordeal has gone on 815 days with no end in sight and we have been patient,” the family’s statement reads in bold.
“Trevor’s job in the Marines was to take a bullet for president Biden and his family. We hope that when we return to Washington next month that both the President we voted for, and his national Security Advisor will find the time to see us.”