Texas delegates to call for the release of Marine veteran from Russian custody
By ELIZABETH THOMPSON | The Dallas Morning News | Published: September 16, 2020
(Tribune News Service) — A bipartisan group of Texas representatives is fighting to bring home former Marine Trevor Reed, recently given a nine-year prison sentence by Russian authorities for what his lawyers say are false charges.
Republican Reps. Michael McCaul and Mike Conaway will introduce a resolution on Wednesday to put pressure on the Kremlin to release Reed, who was born in Fort Worth. He has already been in Russian custody for over a year. They will be joined by Reed’s mother, Paula Reed of Granbury, at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.
“Hopefully, the resolution will help raise awareness about Trevor’s case and pressure the Putin regime to send him, and other wrongly detained U.S. citizens home,” said Sophica Seid, press secretary for the Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans, in a press release.
Reed was charged with “assaulting and endangering the lives of two police officers” after drinking heavily one night in August 2019, according to the New York Times.
But his family and lawyers maintain that he did not attack the officers.
His lawyers say Reed drank more than 23 ounces of vodka at a party with his Russian girlfriend, Alina Tsybulnik, according to the Times. While friends were driving the couple home, Reed appeared agitated and got out of the car, running and waving his hands near a busy highway. Worried for his safety, Tsybulnik called the police who took him to the station.
Following Reed’s arrest, personnel told Tsybulnik to come pick him up in the morning, but when she returned, Reed was being interviewed by the Russian Federal Security Services without an attorney or an interpreter, according to Reed’s family. He was then charged with endangering the lives of the officers who arrested him, who said Reed grabbed an officer’s arm while he was driving, causing the car to swerve and to strike another officer, causing minor injuries.
But the car did not appear to swerve in surveillance footage shown in court.
“The evidence was so flimsy and preposterous that everyone in the courtroom, even the judge, laughed when it was presented,” Ambassador John Sullivan said to NBC News. “If this case had been brought in a U.S. court, not only would it have been thrown out, but the prosecutors would be investigated for bringing it forward in the first place.”
Reed was sentenced to nine years in jail in July. Reed is the second former service member to be held by the Russian government in recent years. Another Marine veteran, Paul Whelan, has been held in Moscow since 2018 on espionage charges. Since his arrest, he has been denied access to the U.S. consulate, communication with his family and medical treatment.
Since Reed was sentenced, the U.S. State Department has issued an advisory for citizens who travel to Russia, advising all government and Department of Defense personnel to reconsider traveling to Russia.
“U.S. citizens, including former and current U.S. government and military personnel, who are visiting or residing in Russia have been arbitrarily interrogated or detained by Russian officials and may become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion,” the advisory said. “...Russian officials may unreasonably delay U.S. consular assistance to detained U.S. citizens.”