Imprisoned Ex-Marine Hospitalized With COVID-19 In Russia Without Consular Access, U.S. Embassy Says

An American imprisoned in Russia has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for two weeks without U.S. consular access or contact with his family.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said on June 8 that it was “past time” the Russian Foreign Ministry meet its international obligations and provide access to former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in order to ensure his health and safety.

“We’ve had no consular access for two weeks and zero updates on his condition despite constant calls and requests” to the Russian Foreign Ministry, an embassy spokesperson quoted Chargé d'Affaires Bart Gorman as saying.

Reed began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on May 17 and his condition worsened, his family said at the time. He later tested positive for the virus.

His family said that the U.S. Embassy had previously requested permission to vaccinate the 29-year-old and Russian officials refused.

Reed is serving a nine-year prison sentence after being convicted in July 2020 for assaulting two police officers. The U.S. government and Reed deny the allegations and questioned the fairness of the judicial proceedings.

Reed is one of several American citizens to face trial in Russia in recent years on charges that their families, supporters, and, in some cases, the U.S. government, have said appear trumped up.

Another former U.S. Marine, 50-year-old Paul Whelan, was sentenced by a court in Moscow to 16 years in prison in May 2020 on espionage charges condemned by the United States as a "mockery of justice.”

The United States has been pushing Russia to release Whelan and Reed. The issue is likely to come up when U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold their first bilateral summit in Geneva on June 16.

A chorus of U.S. lawmakers are also demanding the prisoners' release, with a top Republican suggesting this week that the freedom of the two Americans be a precondition for Biden’s meeting with Putin.

“Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan are being unlawfully held in Russia as political hostages. The immediate release of Trevor and Paul should be among the preconditions of President Biden’s summit with Putin,” said Representative Michael McCaul (Republican-Texas), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In late May, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov suggested Moscow was not in talks with Washington over a possible prisoner swap.