(NewsNation) — The parents of a U.S. Marine held captive in Russia told NewsNation on Monday that they have proof their son is alive after a 10-day silence that led them to fear the worst.
Trevor Reed, 30, has been jailed in Russia since 2019. His parents said he was recently allowed to contact his girlfriend to tell her he was OK though he is in need of medical care.
Reed’s father, Joey Reed, said his son has not received the medical attention he needs and believes he was exposed to tuberculosis. Joey said his son has been coughing up blood and has been battling fevers for months.
“If he was tested, he was unaware,” the elder Reed told NewsNation.
Trevor was jailed when Russian law enforcement accused him of drunkenly grabbing an officer’s arm as he was being driven to a police station. They said it caused the car to swerve, endangering their lives.
He was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020.
Trevor will participate in an appeals hearing at 3 a.m. ET Tuesday. His defense team argues video shows the car did not swerve.
Still, there’s little expectation Trevor’s appeal will lead to an acquittal or clemency. Experts believe Moscow views Trevor as a bargaining chip with the United States.
“It’s obviously a political case,” Joey said. “We plan on taking it all the way to the Russian Supreme Court.”
It’s been a frustrating three years for the family. They say they have no reason to trust the Russian government, and Trevor was barred from contacting them for 232 days beginning last March. He was allowed to talk to his girlfriend occasionally during that time.
Joey Reed said the sanctions as a result of the war in Ukraine have closed some avenues the family used to check in on Trevor. Mail and money can no longer easily make the trip from the U.S. to Russia.
“We’re largely cut off from him, other than our contacts in Russia,” Joey said.
Before hearing from him, the family released a statement saying they feared he would become the “next Otto Warmbier,” a reference to an American jailed in North Korea who was returned home with unexplained brain damage. He died six days after he landed in the United States.
The Reed family met with President Joe Biden last month during a rally at the White House. Joey was complimentary of the president’s demeanor during the talk, but said nothing has changed.
“He did make us feel optimistic, although he didn’t make any assurances, and I don’t think any president should.”