Former Marine's Family Pleads With Biden To Retrieve Son From Russian Prison

Russian captive Trevor Reed recently moved to maximum-security prison

U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed / Getty Images
March 17, 2021

A Marine veteran detained in Russia for more than a year recently spent a week in a maximum-security prison notorious for its brutality, prompting intensified demands for action from his family and congressional Republicans.

Russia has detained Trevor Reed, a Texas native, since 2019 on what his family claims are false pretenses of harming a police officer. Reed has spent most of his imprisonment in Sizo-5, a medium-security prison in Moscow, but Russian agents recently moved him to Sizo-2, a maximum-security facility. Reed's parents said he was left in a small cell for three days with "deranged people," including some known murderers.

"It has been a really long, hard time without him," said Paula Reed, Trevor's mother. "It’s not something I’d wish on anyone else."

Sizo-2 previously gained attention for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax adviser whom agents brutally murdered for his allegedly anti-Putin activities. Inmates in Sizo-2 are often subject to highly dangerous and illegal psychological torture methods. According to Reed family spokesman Jonathan Franks, Reed spent nine days in prison. The extent to which Russian officials harassed Reed during this time remains unclear. He is said not to have been physically harmed or interrogated but was likely put under severe psychological stress.

When Russian officials removed Reed from Sizo-5, they failed to inform the U.S. embassy in Russia for over 72 hours, a potential violation of treaty law. The Vienna Convention of 1961 says that countries imprisoning foreign nationals must inform the national’s embassy "without delay." Neither Reed’s family nor the U.S. embassy heard from Reed or Russian authorities for days. After several inquiries from Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, Moscow returned Reed to his original location but did not provide an explanation why he was moved other than bureaucratic error.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) told the Washington Free Beacon he has been in close contact with the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and that if the Russians moved Reed to a "psychiatric prison" with intent, it could be grounds for action.

"If that was not a mistake and done basically as an act of punishment or torture, then we possibly could be looking at international law violations," he said.

Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) told the Free Beacon that such mismanagement comes from Russia's closed judicial system and authoritarian nature.

"If Russia wants to be viewed as an enlightened government, I think it needs to up its game and correct these deficiencies when it comes to these show trials against American citizens," Cornyn said, adding that the nation should "increase its transparency."

Rep. August Pfluger (R., Texas) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) joined Reed’s family in a Wednesday afternoon press conference, demanding additional assistance from the Biden administration in returning Reed home. No Democratic members attended.

Franks said the Reed family hopes for bipartisan support in the future.

"Trevor's parents would certainly welcome the involvement and support of members on either side of the aisle going forward," he said.

The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment on whether it plans to investigate Russia's potential violation of treaty law.