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The parents of US Navy veteran Trevor Reed, who is serving a nine-year sentence in Russia, are demanding evidence their son is still alive after being unable to reach him for several days.
They also renewed their calls for the Biden administration to step in and bring the American home.
With the war in Ukraine dragging on for more than 40 days, Reed’s parents fear their son’s health will deteriorate rapidly in prison and hint he could become “the next Otto Warmbier”. Warmbier was an American student when he was imprisoned in North Korea in 2016 and eventually brought home with severe brain damage.
Reed has been jailed in Russia since his arrest in 2019 for assaulting Moscow police officers who were driving him to a police station after they picked him up after a night of drinking at a party. He was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to nine years in prison.
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Since then, Biden administration officials have repeatedly called for the release of Reed and Paul Whelan, a Michigan security guard jailed in Russia on espionage charges his family believes are false. The White House says the two men were wrongly imprisoned.
In a statement Wednesday, the Navy veteran’s parents said Reed’s last proof of life dates back to April 1, when Russian authorities allowed him to call his girlfriend. Five days then went by without an update on Reed’s “rapidly deteriorating health,” his parents said, adding that “with every passing hour we’re becoming increasingly concerned that something terrible is happening.”
“To be clear, we cannot confirm that Trevor was even transferred to a ‘prison hospital,’ or confirm that he ended his hunger strike, or that he received genuine medical attention as claimed by Russian officials,” the family said. said in a statement released by their spokesman, Jonathan Franks.
The last time Reed was allegedly silent in the hospital was when Russian authorities claimed they accidentally transferred him to the psychiatric ward of the notorious Butyrka prison for nine days, the family said. Meanwhile, Reed was “severely abused and held in shocking conditions with dangerous inmates, including murderers, in a cell with walls covered in excrement,” the family added.
“We believe there is a fast-closing window for the Biden administration to bring our son home,” they said. “Our son has no more time. We again urge the White House to do whatever it takes to bring Trevor home. We continue to believe that a prisoner swap is the only way to get Trevor home in the short term. »
“With every day lost in ‘Considerations’, the risk of our son becoming the next Otto Warmbier increases dramatically,” the statement added. “We urge the Russian government to provide proof of life and allow Trevor to call us again. Our son is seriously ill. Now is not the time to be cruel for the sake of cruelty. »
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Joey and Paula Reed of Granbury, Texas, traveled to Washington, DC last week and met with President Biden in the Oval Office. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the meeting and said the president’s national security team will remain in touch with the Reeds.
“To the Russian government please let us speak to our son so we know he is alive and well,” free account Trevor Reed tweeted Thursday. “To the US Government: Bring Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan home now! You have the capacity, just do it!
The Associated Press contributed to this report.