Former US Marine launches hunger strike in Russian jail


US ex-marine Trevor Reed, charged with attacking police, stands inside a defendants’ cage during his verdict hearing at Moscow’s Golovinsky district court on July 30, 2020. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) —  Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed has begun a hunger strike in a Russian jail to protest being put in solitary confinement and not receiving proper medical care despite fears that he has tuberculosis, his parents said on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Texan is serving a nine-year jail term after being convicted of endangering the lives of two police officers while drunk on a visit to Moscow in 2019. He denied the charges and the United States called his trial a “theater of the absurd.”

His parents said that Reed, who is in a prison in the region of Mordovia, was exposed to an inmate with active tuberculosis in December, but said Reed had not been tested for the illness despite a rapid deterioration of his health.

The parents, Joey and Paula Reed, met with Biden in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“During their meeting, the president reiterated his commitment to continue to work to secure the release of Trevor, Paul Whelan, and other Americans wrongfully held in Russia and elsewhere, and to provide all possible assistance until they and others are free and returned home to their families who are advocating so passionately for their release,” Psaki said in a written statement.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was pressing for consular access to Reed and other American citizens detained in Russia, a State Department spokesperson said.

“We are concerned by reports that Trevor Reed has begun a hunger strike to protest his conditions. We call on Russian officials to provide adequate medical care immediately,” the spokesperson said by email.

Reed was put in a prison hospital for 10 days, but returned to the prison last week without having received “meaningful medical care beyond an X-ray which was taken incorrectly,” the parents said.

“Trevor’s Mordovian lawyer was able to see him (on Tuesday) and confirmed that Trevor began a hunger strike to protest being sent back to solitary while injured and having TB,” the parents said in a statement.

“Soon after he returned, Trevor asked authorities at the IK-12 gulag to return to the hospital. Instead, authorities returned him to solitary confinement,” they said.

Russia’s prison authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reed staged a hunger strike late last year to protest his incarceration and alleged rights abuses before calling it off almost a week later, having lost weight. Russia’s prison authority denied he had been refusing food or that his rights were being violated.

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