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American Trevor Reed ends hunger strike in Russian prison, lawyers say

Ex-U.S. Marine reacts to 9 year prison sentence in Russia
Ex-U.S. Marine reacts to 9 year prison sentence in Russia 01:12

Moscow — Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed has ended a hunger strike over the conditions of his incarceration in a Russian prison, his Moscow-based lawyers told CBS News in a statement on Wednesday.

"Trevor was released from the punitive confinement cell and moved back to the general population on Thursday [November 11]," lawyers Sergey Nikitenkov and Viktoria Bulkova said in the statement. "Trevor said he is now receiving drug therapy. [He] ended his hunger strike." 

Reed, however, in a recent letter to his family that was provided to CBS News, reported receiving only vitamins, and said his health was poor. In the letter, Reed said he had lost a lot of weight and was sick, with symptoms including "cough, headache, congestion, mucus in his lungs and back pain." 

US ex-marine Trevor Reed appeals against his 9-year prison sentence for attacking police
Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed (L) attends an appeal hearing at the Moscow City Court, June 28, 2021, in Moscow, Russia. Moscow City Court/TASS/Getty

Reed's lawyers said earlier that he started a hunger strike on November 4, "in protest over being repeatedly placed in a punitive isolation ward," claiming the isolation was illegal and part of wider serious violations of his rights.

The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service said then that the U.S. citizen had not informed the prison administration of his hunger strike and insisted that the facility's staff "did not commit any violations" in relation to Reed. In the letter to his family, Reed disputed that claim, saying the prison service had even recorded his refusal to eat on video.

Reed's family previously told CBS News in a statement that their son had been deprived of all correspondence with the outside world and was being held in a small room with poor facilities. They also alleged that prison guards had been "taunting" Reed about items he was supposed to have been given from U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan.

Texas native Reed was sentenced last year to nine years in prison on charges of assaulting police officers after a drunken night out in Moscow in 2019. Reed has said he has no recollection of the incident and he pleaded not guilty.

Trevor Reed Presser
Paula Reed, the mother of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol to call for his release, September 16, 2020. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, right, and Mike Conaway, R-Texas, also attended. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty

His lawyers said it was the harshest sentence ever handed down in Russia for the charge, and Reed himself slammed the ruling as "completely political."

U.S. officials have accused Russia of holding Reed, and another American jailed on espionage charges, Paul Whelan, as bargaining chips for a potential prisoner swap.

Russia officially denies that negotiations are underway to swap the two Americans, but the Kremlin has sent signals that it would welcome the release of Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer nicknamed the "Merchant of Death," and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot convicted of smuggling cocaine into the U.S.

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