The parents of US Marine Trevor Reed, currently on hunger strike in a Russian gulag, finally met with Biden to discuss their son’s release.
Joey and Paula Reed sought to remind Biden of their son’s service to the country during a 30-minute meeting on Wednesday, as Russia-US relations continue to sour during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
‘He listened intently to everything we had to say until we were through talking. We couldn’t have asked for more,’ Joey Reed told CNN.
Paula Reed added: ‘We got to get it off our chest, all the things that we’ve been wanting to say to him, and it’s done. We got to say what we wanted to say. He listened intently, and we’re grateful for that.’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden ‘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.’
Reed, 30, is serving a nine-year sentence in a penal colony in Mordovia after he was convicted in a Russian court of endangering the lives of two policemen while drunk on a visit to Moscow in 2019, in a trial the US called a ‘theatre of the absurd.’
He’s now on a hunger strike in protest of being placed in solitary confinement, after his parents said he caught tuberculosis behind bars and was denied ‘meaningful medical care’ for that and a broken rib.
Joey and Paula Reed met with President Joe Biden on Wednesday evening to discuss securing their son’s release from a Russian
The Reeds, above as they demonstrate in Lafayette Park near the White House earlier on Wednesday, have been protesting in DC and trying to get a meeting with the president
Trevor Reed, 30, has languished in a Russian prison since 2019 after he was accused of drunkenly grabbing an officer’s arm as he was being arrested, causing him to swerve. The US has disputed the account and called his trial a ‘theatre of the absurd’
A family spokesman said Biden was ‘incredibly gracious’ during the Wednesday meeting
Family spokesman Jonathan Franks tweeted that the president was ‘incredibly gracious’ during his Wednesday evening meeting with the Reeds, who said the meeting left them feeling ‘optimistic.’
‘We want to tell him about our son – a little bit that he hasn’t gotten from a report from someone,’ Joey Reed told ABC News before the meeting. ‘Remind him that our son added time to his Marine Corps service so he could be a presidential guard.’
The Reeds have called for the US to engage in a prisoner swap in exchange for their son, but US officials had not been very responsive to the desperate parents’ repeated pleas until now.
The president drove past the parents while they demonstrated at a speech he was giving in Fort Worth, Texas on March 8. The speech was about helping veterans access better health care.
That same day, a White House official said that the president had called the Reeds afterwards and reiterated ‘his commitment to doing everything he can to bring their son home, to staying in close touch with them through his national security team, and to finding a time to meet in person.’
Biden, 79, was asked whether he’d meet the family after delivering COVID remarks Wednesday afternoon.
‘I’m gonna see if I can get to see them. They’re good people,’ he said. ‘We’re trying to work that out.’
Before the meeting, the Reeds released a statement saying: ‘Each day, we worry that our son will become the next Otto Warmbier,’ referring to an American student who died during detainment in North Korea.
‘We hope the President will be able to find the time to see us. We need his Administration to stop deliberating and start acting. We believe the President (whom we voted for) is the only person who can save our son’s life.’
Reed’s parents say their son is continuously punished for small things like not making his bed properly, according to ABC News.
‘During the day, because the room has no real heating and there’s cracks in the windows, you see your breath all day long. He coils up on the floor next to a hot water pipe to stay warm and then he’s given violations for laying on the floor during the daytime,’ father Joey Reed told reporters.
They’ve also expressed concerns that their son is being used as a ‘bargaining chip’ during rising tensions between the US and Russia as the latter continues its invasion of Ukraine.
Trevor Reed standing inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing in Moscow in July 30, 2020. His parents, Joey and Paula Reed, reported earlier in March that their son had been couching up blood after possibly contracting tuberculosis from a cellmate
Trevor Reed standing inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing in Moscow on March 11, 2020. He has been in the IK-12 gulag in Mordovia for over two years
The Reed family provided this undated photo of Trevor Reed with his mother Paula when he was stil serving in the US Marines. He travelled to Russia in the summer of 2019 to visit his Russian girlfriend and study Russian
Trevor Reed posing for a photo at the Moscow Zoo during the summer of 2019 in happier times before his arrest and incarceration
‘The time is now to bring home Trevor, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,’ referring to the WNBA player who is in a Russian prison for allegedly bringing vape cartridges containing hash oil into the country last month.
‘As we have said for more than a year, we continue to worry escalating tensions, or rhetoric, could lead to Russian authorities inventing additional false charges against Trevor.’
Reed’s current hunger strike comes at a time when his health is believed to be in peril due to being placed in a cell with a prisoner carrying tuberculosis. Despite deteriorating health, the prison authorities have refused to test him for the disease.
His parents, Joey and Paula Reed, reported earlier in March that their son had been couching up blood. He was moved to a prison hospital for ten days but was then returned to his cell ‘meaningful medical care beyond an X-ray which was taken incorrectly’, they 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.
Speaking to CNN on Wednesday Joey Reed said: ‘Trevor had some sort of injury where he thinks he might have a broken rib. Plus, he has all the symptoms of active tuberculosis. He went to a prison hospital for about 10 days. And then they didn’t treat him. They took an X-ray that didn’t work.
‘And when they brought him back to his prison he said, “I need to go back. I’m still hurt and sick.” And they put him to solitary confinement again, where he had been for most of the last seven months. So he is protesting that. That’s against all Russian regulations and European human rights.’
Reed’s family revealed that Reed had previously spent time in solitary confinement for refusing to do hard labor.
Trevor had been spending the summer of 2019 in Russia, visiting his girlfriend and studying Russian. However, just days before his return to the US a night out in Moscow sent everything spinning into chaos.
According to the Russian version of events, on the night of August 16, Reed was arrested after he got drunk and allegedly grabbed the arm of an officer as he was being taken to a station to be booked, causing the vehicle to swerve and ‘endangering the lives of officers’.
At the time, the US ambassador dismissed the allegation as ‘preposterous’ and noted that video evidence showed no swerving.
He currently resides in a cell in the penal colony, in extremely poor conditions, according to the family, who say his cell does not even include a toilet and that he did not receive any items that had been brought to him by US ambassador John Sullivan.
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a two-pronged plan to increase oil supply and help accelerate the switch to electric vehicles to tackle record high gas prices
Joey and Paula Reed have been protesting outside the White House to raise awareness of their son’s plight.
This is the second hunger strike Reed has staged, coming on the heels of the one last year, which was motivated by his unjust incarceration and alleged human rights abuses he had suffered at the hands of the Russian penal system in his gulag.
He called 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.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put the US and Russia at odds, with the US sanctioning Russia oligarchs and banks in protest of continued attacks on civilians.
On Thursday, Biden said that record gas prices were caused by the pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as he unveiled a two-pronged plan to increase supply and reduce demand.
He announced he would release a million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic reserve for the next six months and accelerate the switch to electric vehicle.
But his analysis of the cause of the crisis will attract criticism for opponents who accuse him of shifting the blame for his administration’s economic woes.
Gas prices reached their highest since 2008 earlier this month but are slowly falling
The White House has been desperately looking at options to lower fuel prices. Biden will announce the release of 180 million barrels of oil – the biggest release in the near 50-year history of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
‘The problem we’re facing with gas prices has two roots,’ Biden told reporters at the White House.
‘First, the pandemic. When COVID struck demand for oil plummeted so production slowed down worldwide.
‘Because of the strength and the speed of recovery, demand for oil shot back up much faster than the supply. That’s why the cost of gas began to rise last year.
‘The second root is Vladimir Putin.’
At the start of the year the price of a gallon was about about $3.30, he continued, while today it is averaging about $4.22.