North Texas Daily

Former university student still detained in Russian prison after almost 1,000 days

Former university student still detained in Russian prison after almost 1,000 days

Former university student still detained in Russian prison after almost 1,000 days
March 03
14:00 2022

No updates are available from the university about former student Trevor Reed, who was imprisoned in Russia two and a half years ago, as his father and nonprofits continue to fight for his freedom.

At the time of an interview with Trevor’s father Joey Reed on Feb. 15, 2022, Trevor had been in a Russian prison for 914 days.

“We’re closing in on 1,000 days here,” said Joey, a Granbury resident.

Trevor was arrested in Moscow after getting drunk at an end-of-summer party hosted by his girlfriend’s employers in August 2019. While Trevor could not remember that night, officers said he risked their lives on the drive to the police station when he grabbed the driver’s arm and forced the car out of its lane. The police officers did not have body cameras or a dashcam to back up their story, but footage from a security camera facing the street was shown in court.

“We had Russian government experts analyze [the three hours of videotape] […] the car not only never swerved at all within its own lane, it never entered the other lane,” Joey said.

The highest possible sentence for assaulting a police officer in Russia is 10 years and usually is reserved for when the police officer is critically injured, Joey said. While researching past assault cases, Joey only found a couple of dozen of those convictions in 30 years.

Trevor, now 30, was given nine years.

During the trial, Trevor admitted while he could not remember the night, he would never assault an officer but would plead guilty if they could prove he did.

“[Trevor] said, ‘I’d rather stay in prison an honest man than walk away tomorrow, a liar and a coward,’ and then the next day that judge gave him the longest sentence in modern Russian history,” Joey said.

At the time of his arrest, Trevor had studied international affairs and Russian at the university in spring 2019 but was also a veteran who had worked as a member of former President Barack Obama’s security. A former U.S. marine himself, Joey believes the Russian government made the decision to hold Trevor hostage to try and get information out of him. Trevor’s first night in jail included interrogations, Joey said.

U.S. President Joe Biden brought up Trevor at the June 2021 Geneva summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin while discussing a possible prisoner exchange of both Trevor and Paul Whelan, another imprisoned American currently serving a 16-year sentence for espionage charges.

“The Obama administration and the Trump administration both made several prisoner exchanges,” Joey said. “We’re just wondering why, especially in Trevor and Paul Whelan’s situation, […] they’re not doing so now.”

Trevor’s case is supported by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for Americans held hostage or detained in other countries. The program is named after a freelance journalist who was murdered in 2014. Trevor’s picture is one of 23 posted on its website.

“While the world’s attention is on the horrific invasion of Ukraine, the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is deeply concerned about the continued wrongful detention of Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan by Russia,” said Cynthia Loertscher, foundation director of research. “We implore our U.S. government to prioritize their return home as soon as possible.”

Before COVID-19 shut down the world, Joey was living in Russia so he could visit his son when he could to bring him food. Since COVID-19 restrictions began, updates from lawyers visiting Trevor have become some of the only updates Joey has after returning to Texas.

“There [were] about four months where no one could visit Trevor or talk to him,” Joey said.

Two hundred days have passed since Joey last spoke to Trevor on the phone.

Trevor contracted COVID-19 in spring 2021 and was then moved to a hospital prison to avoid the other prisoners but did not receive real treatment, only vitamins, Joey said. After being released, Trevor was moved to a prison camp in July 2021.

Because Trevor was not an active university student at the time of his arrest, the university has not received any updates on his situation. A North Texas Daily story on Trevor from July 2021 included a statement from university Associate Director of Reputation Management Leigh Anne Gullett.

“Even though he was only enrolled at UNT for one semester and not a student when this happened, we are always concerned for the safety of our current and former students and have followed his story alongside the rest of the country,” Gullett said.

When the Daily reached out to Gullett again, she stated the university has not received any updates on Trevor’s situation and re-sent the university’s official statement from July 2021. The Daily also reached out to the university’s Student Veteran Services Office, university President Neal Smatresk and Director of Communications Amy Armstrong, but none of them could provide any new information.

While Trevor and his lawyers are currently working on an appeal, tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to rise, leaving Joey worried U.S. prisoners could be caught in the middle.

“We’re very concerned about the Ukraine situation,” Joey said. “Because if a war breaks out there, it’s going to make it really, really difficult for Trevor and Paul.”

A conflict did break out — Russia began its invasion into Ukraine on Feb. 24. Joey encourages anyone looking for a way to help Trevor to contact government officials on his behalf.

“The best thing to do right now is if they could go to the White House, on the internet, go to whitehouse.gov/contact and you can leave a message for the President,” Joey said.

More information on Trevor and his case can be found at freetrevorreed.com.

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Alex Reece

Alex Reece

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