Joey Reed’s son, Trevor, is 29. He could spend nearly a decade of his life in a Moscow prison, where he’s been held since August 2019.
For most of 2020, Texan Joey Reed has been living in Moscow. Despite many challenges, including the pandemic, Reed remains in Russia. He is trying to keep his son’s case from falling below the radar. A case full of what he calls “political motivation.” He spends a lot of his time updating a website, which advocates for Trevor’s freedom.
Joey Reed told NBC 7 Investigates, “The reason he is being detained here for up to nine years is that he is a former U.S. Marine. It’s not because of anything he did.”
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In August 2019, Russian police detained an intoxicated Trevor Reed. Prosecutors accused Trevor of grabbing a police officer who was behind the wheel of a car. They said it caused the vehicle to swerve dangerously. Trevor denied the charge, citing flimsy evidence and failure to provide video evidence that could prove his innocence.
At his sentencing in July 2020 Trevor addressed the court and media stating, "Every single piece of evidence that was used in this case was taken by my attorneys. The investigator refused to take video evidence from the vehicle that I was in after we made several requests."
Trevor said he would not admit guilt to a crime he didn't commit.
"I think it would be unethical and immoral to plead guilty to a crime I didn't commit," he said in his closing statement on the eve of the trial's verdict. "If I am going to be given a prison sentence, I'd rather stay in prison than walk free tomorrow a liar and a coward."
On the legal front, Trevor’s case went all the way to the Russian Supreme Court and is still in the appeals process. His push for his freedom has been filled with letdowns and financial hardship for the family. Adding to the challenges? COVID-19. No one was able to visit Trevor for months in prison.
“Physically he’s doing better now. But during the lockdown, the first lockdown, when the jail was closed for over four months he was not doing well,” Joey Reed said. “He lost a lot of weight and you don’t get any medical treatment in there.”
Joey Reed said, “Mentally I’d say it’s a little bit of a roller coaster because he has this feeling that the United States government (even though members of Congress and the Ambassador) has stated he’s a politically prisoner.. he still feels like the State Department isn’t doing a whole lot. We do know that the President and Secretary Pompeo have never mentioned Trevor’s name.”
With president-elect Joe Biden slated to take office in January, Reed is hopeful the new administration will intervene in his son's case. But, the family, is and has always been willing to accept help from anyone in power.
“We have been very careful not to make comments about the current or future administration. We would be happy with anyone from any administration that can bring our son home. He’s innocent and he’s caught up in these political games between the two countries.”
Other cases, such as that of another former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, have garnered much more political and media attention, likely due to the nature of the charges against Whelan — espionage — and the open discussion of using him as a bargaining chip with the United States.
NBC 7 Investigates reached out to the State Department about Trevor Reed’s case. A spokesperson from the State Department stated in an email, “The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. We are aware of Trevor Reed’s conviction, a conviction that we strongly condemn. Our Embassy in Moscow last spoke with Trevor Reed on November 11, 2020. We continue to press for fair and humane treatment, and regular contact with U.S. consular officials. Trevor's health and welfare are of grave concern. We remain in contact with the Reed family.”
On August 31, 2020 the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan's made a statement in part, “This outrageous trial, conviction, and sentence send a very strong signal to all Americans that it is not safe to travel to Russia. Trevor’s case holds no legal merit, and he should be released immediately so he may return to his family in the United States. Trevor Reed should be released, now.”
To read Sullivan’s full statement, click here.