North Texas Daily

President Biden recognizes former university student imprisoned in Russia

President Biden recognizes former university student imprisoned in Russia

President Biden recognizes former university student imprisoned in Russia
July 01
10:00 2021

President Joe Biden recognized a former university student detained in Russia for almost two years as “wrongfully imprisoned” following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Trevor Reed, 29, was arrested in Moscow in August 2019 after a night of drinking at a private company party hosted by his girlfriend’s employer. In July 2020, Reed was sentenced to nine years in jail for endangering police officers with violence. Reed continues to deny the charges and U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan called Reed’s trial “theater of the absurd” and described the evidence against Reed as “so preposterous that [it] provoked laughter in the courtroom.”

“Our hopes were completely lifted when President Biden talked about Trevor to President Putin,” Trevor’s father Joey Reed said. “Before the meeting, Putin called Trevor a drunk and a troublemaker. After the meeting, Putin said a prisoner exchange was something they might be able to accomplish.”

In a press conference following the Geneva summit, Biden pledged to “follow through” on the discussion and said he is “not going to walk away” from the case. This was the first time the president mentioned Trevor by name, on day 671 of Trevor’s detention.

“We believe [the Russian government imprisoned Trevor] to take my son as a bargaining chip,” Joey said. “Police took him in to get a bribe and then he was given a false charge so they could hold him with a longer sentence for a larger bargaining chip.”

Trevor, born in Fort Worth, is a former U.S. Marine who served as presidential security for former President Barack Obama. After being honorably discharged from the military, Trevor enrolled in the university in the spring of 2019 as an international studies major. He chose this area of study due to his training with the FBI and Secret Service, which would allow him to work in security in the government, Joey said

“[Trevor] was loving school, he loved the program and the instructors,” Joey said. “He had just started taking those classes related to [international studies before his arrest].”

International studies degree plans at the university require foreign language classes, so Trevor pursued Russian because of its potential to set his resume apart, as well as his girlfriend being a Russian native. In May of 2019, he traveled to Moscow to take Russian language lessons and visit his girlfriend. Joey said the day after Trevor was supposed to return to the U.S., Trevor was scheduled for a language placement test at the university.

Joey, an alumnus of the university himself, said the Reed family reached out to President Neal Smatresk in 2020 to inform him of Trevor’s situation and express concern for other university students traveling to Russia.

Smatresk did not respond to the North Texas Daily’s request for comment.

“Even though [Trevor] was only enrolled at UNT for one semester and not a student when [he was arrested], we are always concerned for the safety of our current and former students and have followed his story alongside the rest of the country,” said Leigh Anne Gullett, Associate Director of Reputation Management, on behalf of the university.

Trevor completed two years at Tarrant County Community College and was a junior when he enrolled at the university. Joey said Trevor would have graduated by now had he not been arrested in Russia. 

“[Trevor is] afraid his life is slipping away but we’re still trying to convince him that he’s young,” Joey said. “He’s concerned that he’s going to be there another seven years. There’s no telling, we’re dealing with international politics in an international climate that changes every hour.”

Joey said university and local community members who want to help his son can contact the president and members of congress to express their support of Trevor’s release. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have resolutions calling for the immediate release of Trevor. Joey said his family has gotten support from Texas Sen. John Cornyn, while receiving none from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“There used to be a lot of veterans at UNT,” Joey said. “[It would be helpful] if veterans want to put up flyers about Trevor to let other students know about him.”

More information on Trevor and his case can be found on the website run by his family at freetrevorreed.com.

Courtesy Reuters 

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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