U.S. Citizen Trevor Reed to Remain in Russian Prison After Assault Case Appeal Denied

Moscow City Court on Monday rejected former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed's appeal of a nine-year sentence imposed last year for assaulting police officers in August of 2019, the Associated Press reported.

Reed had been studying Russian and visiting his girlfriend in Moscow when he was accused of assaulting police officers who were driving him to a police station after picking him up from a party where he had been drinking heavily. A lower court convicted Reed last year and issued the sentence.

The United States has attempted to secure Reed's release on the grounds that the evidence against him was weak. U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan confirmed to reporters after the hearing that the U.S. would continue fighting for Reed's release.

"I regret that the appellate court has not corrected this gross injustice, but it does not in any way affect the seriousness with which I and the U.S. government will continue to pursue this matter for Trevor to get him released so that he can go home and be with his family," Sullivan said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Trevor Reed
Former U.S. Marine and University of North Texas student Trevor Reed (left) attends an appeal hearing at Moscow City Court on June 28, 2021. Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison and a 300,000-ruble compensation to the injured party for attacking police in Moscow, Russia, in August of 2019. Moscow City Court/TASS via Getty Images

Asked about Reed in a recent interview with NBC News, Russian President Vladimir Putin called him a "drunk and a troublemaker."

Reed was diagnosed with COVID-19 in May. Earlier this month, the U.S. Embassy protested the lack of consular access to him during his hospitalization and said he had been repeatedly denied phone calls to his family or embassy personnel.

"My colleagues and I were able to speak with Trevor today," Sullivan said after the court hearing. "He is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstance. He's a remarkable and resilient young man."

Reed is one of two Americans imprisoned in Russia under controversial circumstances. Paul Whelan, a former corporate security executive who also holds Canadian, Irish and British citizenship, was arrested in Moscow in 2018, convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years. His lawyer has said his client was handed a flash drive that had classified information on it that he didn't know about.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Whelan and Reed are being "wrongfully imprisoned" in Russia and raised their plight with Putin at their summit in Geneva earlier this month.

Putin had opened the door to possible discussions about a prisoner swap with the U.S. and said those conversations would continue. Biden said he would follow up, too.

The U.S. is holding two prisoners whose release Russia has sought for more than a decade, including arms trader Viktor Bout. The other is 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.

Sullivan returned to Moscow only last week. He flew out in April after Russian officials suggested that he should leave to mirror the departure of the Russian ambassador in Washington, whom Moscow recalled for consultations after Biden described Putin as a "killer" in March.

During the Geneva summit, Putin and Biden agreed to return the ambassadors to Washington and Moscow in a bid to improve badly deteriorated diplomatic relations between the countries.

John Sullivan
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan speaks to the media after attending a court session for American Trevor Reed in front of the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, on June 28, 2021. A Moscow court rejected Reed's appeal of his nine-year sentence for assaulting police officers. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo