One of two Marine Corps veterans imprisoned in Russia for separate crimes they say they did not commit has ended a hunger strike protesting his treatment behind bars.
Thirty-year-old Trevor Reed reportedly started the protest March 28, claiming he not only had been wrongfully put in solitary confinement but also had medical care withheld despite concerns he had contracted tuberculosis from a fellow prisoner in December 2021.
The former Marine Corps presidential guard member is serving a nine-year sentence for allegedly assaulting Russian police officers during a night out with his girlfriend in Moscow in 2019.
“On Friday, April 1, the convict Reed ended his hunger strike and began to receive food,” the Federal Penitentiary Service said, according to Reuters. “On the same day, at his request, he was sent to the medical facility.”
But despite recent statements from Russian authorities saying Reed has been tested for and treated for tuberculosis, Reed family spokesman Jonathan Franks shared a statement from Joey and Paula Reed claiming their son still had “symptoms consistent with active tuberculosis.”
“The Reeds are not able to confirm an end to Trevor’s hunger strike,” Franks wrote in an email to NPR. “We would invite Russian authorities to let Trevor call his parents.”
This is the second time Reed has gone on a hunger strike, the first occurring in November 2021 alongside other family claims that their son was being treated poorly.
“Russian authorities are holding Trevor in a small room with a hole in the floor for a toilet,” Reed’s family said in a statement in November 2021. “They will not allow him to communicate in his own language, to receive books or letters, to receive commissary items like other prisoners do, nor will they allow him to use a phone.”
At the same time Reed was protesting, his parents met with President Joe Biden and senior White House officials following a March phone call with the president.
“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said following the March 30 meeting.
Also detained in Russia is Marine veteran Paul Whelan, from Novi, Michigan.
Following 14 years of service, in December 2018 Whelan was working as a security executive when he was arrested at his Moscow hotel for espionage. He is serving a 16-year sentence of hard labor at a prison camp in Mordovia.
Both Whelan and Reed have been listed as “wrongful detainees” by the U.S. government.
Psaki also reportedly confirmed that the president’s national security team would remain in contact with the Reed family as concerns over the two Marines’ wrongful imprisonment continue to rise as the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on.
“If this becomes long and drawn out, and they take over Ukraine, then the Western countries and the United States are going to be at odds with Russia for a long time,” Joey Reed said following his phone call with the president at the beginning March.
“That could lead to additional charges against our son, if he lives, and keep him there indefinitely, which is not uncommon in Russia.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master's candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting.